Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cool People Profile: Dr. J. Michael Fay

Name: Dr. J. Michael Fay 
Age: 54 
Nationality: USA 
Profession: Field Ecologist / Conservationist 
Employer: Wildlife Conservation Society 
Email: via public relations, Wildlife Conservation Society,  
Quote: "I think about GIS [geographic information system] and what it's about. It's about managing the landscape, quite simply. Whether it's oil or logging or crime prevention or conservation, it's about all that is living and all that is not on this planet. You can visualize the landscape and understand cause and effect and you can make change happen."

Social Networking
1. Old fashioned meetings and face-to-face contacts

By profession, Dr. J. Michael Fay is a conservationist and field ecologist, but it is hard to define him on paper. After completing a B.S. degree in 1978 from the University of Arizona he joined the Peace Corps, where he spent six years as a botanist in Tunisia and Central African Republic. He then began work in western Sudan on western lowland gorillas, for which he eventually earned his PhD.

In 1991 he joined the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and made a public name for himself in 1997 through a joint National Geographic Society and WCS-sponsored "megatransect" of central Africa. In other words, he walked for 3200km (2000+ miles) from eastern DR Congo to the Atlantic Ocean in Gabon. Throughout the yearlong journey he surveyed trees, wildlife, and human impacts. His story was featured in National Geographic Magazine, laying the groundwork for future long-distance and time-consuming environmental surveys as well as establishing the first national parks in Gabon.

In 2004 he completed an eight-month "megaflyover" of Africa in a Cessna to reveal photographically the impact of human activity on animal life and the environment.Over 800 flight hours and 116,000 vertical images were recorded, with all images uploaded to Google Earth.

In 2008 he completed an 1125km (700 mile) yearlong hike through California's redwood forests and collected data "critical to understanding the ecology and history of the redwood forest."

Dr. Fay has never taken the safe road, instead spending his time conducting longterm field research in African nations without internal resources or expertise. Dr. Fay has shown his committment to nature in a way few field biologists can claim and that is what makes him a cool person.