Dr. Grace Kia
A Veterinarian with a passion for Wildlife ecology who has studied zoonotic diseases in Nigerian bats. An Assistant Professor at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr Kia is committed to mentoring young Nigerians in zoonotic disease risk assessment and prevention. She is affiliated with the African Center of Excellence for Neglected Tropical Disease and Forensic Biotechnology, and founded the NGO War against Rabies (waragainstrabies.org). Her interest in bat conservation and commitment to sound science in Nigeria aligns with our capacity-building policies at SMACON.
Dr. Cullen Geiselman
A bat ecologist and conservationist, who has primarily focused on bat-plant interactions and launched a project (batplant.org) that has become a valuable resource to the global community of ecologists. Dr Geiselman sits on the boards of some conservation NGOs and a former Board Chair at Bat Conservation International. With many years of philanthropy, Cullen has demonstrated long-term support for students in tropical areas and continues to support developing country scientists, especially in Africa. Her experience supporting on the ground conservation efforts across the world is a valuable resource to our operations at SMACON.
Dr. Paul Bates
A bat/rodent taxonomist who has published extensively on the diversity, distribution, and ecology of both groups in Asia, Arabia, and Africa. Dr. Bates is the Director of the Harrison Institute (Harrison-institute.org), who together with his wife, Beatrix Lanzinger, co-supports ecotourism/conservation, and biodiversity science projects in Myanmar. His current focus is developing capacity among in-country university/museum staff and students across Asia and Africa, notably as the manager of an EU-funded environmental education project in Myanmar (https://www.myanmar-edu.org/). Paul is also an international mentor on SMACON Research Fellowship program.
Dr. Benneth Obitte is a Post Doctoral Researcher in Dr. Kingston's lab at Texas Tech University, where he focuses on human dimensions of bat hunting across southern Nigeria and contributes significantly to an integrative NSF-funded disease ecology project. Ben has conducted multiple surveys in Nigeria and is very committed to working with local people on community-participatory solutions to conservation issues. Ben has mentored multiple graduate and undergraduate students in Africa and the United States. He co-founded SMACON and oversees the conservation programs by relying heavily on carefully collected evidence. Ben is a National Geographic Explorer.
Iroro Tanshi is a multiple award-winning African woman conservationist who focuses on saving Afrotropical biodiversity in the lower Guinean Forest and coastal forests of the Gulf of Guinea islands. Iroro also co-founded and leads the SMACON. She is committed to strengthening and raising in-country capacity in Africa, which is pivotal for sustainable action.
Manager, Administration and Development
Eze Ajali holds a Bachelors in Microbiology and a Master's in Petroleum Engineering. He has volunteered in SMACON since 2019 in the areas of logistics, procurement, and administration, and joined SMACON fully in 2021. He currently oversees SMACON activities in Benin and implements management systems to improve workflows and staff productivity at SMACON. Eze also contributes to our long-term strategic goals through fund-raising and managing donor expectations.
Manager, Community Engagement and Research
Inieke Udokang has been a bat conservationist since her undergraduate thesis project on the roosting behavior of fruit bats in southern Nigeria. She has a bachelor's in Zoology and a master's in Ecology and Environmental Biology. As the Community Engagement and Research Manager at SMACON, Inieke protects bat habitats with community members living on the boundaries of protected areas in southeastern Nigeria.
Manager, Field Projects
Juliana Adeola Labiran works as an Environmental Specialist at Hayat Kimya Nigeria. An alumnus of the Tropical Biology Association field course (2017/Amani) she is the current Secretary of the Nigerian chapter. Her curiosity and passion for field research and conservation led her to volunteer on multiple bat surveys at SMACON, giving her first hand experiences with the local people and landscapes where we work. Her role as a consultant at SMACON includes coordinating our mentorship program, overseeing field surveys, project plans, and evaluation.
Intern, Social Media
Jess Wray is an Earth Science master's student at the University of Amsterdam. She currently interns with a local ecological consultancy where she conducts acoustic surveys and research on the Pond bat. Jess loves to share her enthusiasm for bats through stories and games and will make use of her creativity as a volunteer for SMACON's communications team.
Intern, Communication and Social Media
Enifome Awotu holds a Master's in Public Health Biotechnology that involved the use of molecular biology techniques and is interested in how genetic and environmental factors drive biodiversity. As an undergrad at the University of Benin, Fome, volunteered on the Eidolon population monitoring program, entering the exciting world of bats. Enifome is enthusiastic about writing and science communication. As a Communication and Social Media Intern, she works with the communication team to educate the public about SMACON’s amazing work with bats.
Intern, Accounts and Operations
Oluchi F. Agodi is a recent graduate of the department of animal and environmental biology, University of Benin. She is curious about bats and hopes to learn as much as she can about them whilst still contributing her quota to their conservation. She is interning as the Operations officer.