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What Being in Committee of 100 Next Generation Leadership Means to Me

I was recently accepted into the youth wing of an organization that I have known for much of my adult life. The group has its origins in the American architect, I.M. Pei (RIP), who organized a group of Chinese Americans into an advocacy organization, with its founding members including Yo-Yo Ma, I.M. Pei himself, Henry S. Tang, Oscar Tang, Chien Shiung Wu, and Shirley Young. The group has tackled two issues directly relevant to me: improving the most important bilateral relationship in the world, between the United States and China, and full civic participation of Chinese Americans in American society. In my professional work in biodiversity conservation, the relationship between the United States and China has had a significant impact on topics ranging from the application of wildlife products in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), endangered species conservation, wildlife trafficking, and global ecosystem health.

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Year in Review 2023

As you get older you begin to appreciate more and more the friends you have made. From a spring funeral and baby shower, to a summer wedding and birthday, during a typical year I have tended to oscillate between different stages of people’s lives.

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The 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) turns 50 years old today and this milestone serves as a benchmark on which to measure its progress. In the face of habitat loss, climate change, and other threats, the law has prevented 99 percent of the species listed for protection from going extinct. For me, being able to work on implementing this law is one aspect of being part of a mission larger than myself, that of ensuring the wondrous biodiversity on Earth continues long after I am gone. Even though my current job has taken me mostly away from fieldwork, I am satisfied knowing that the policy guidance I provide has played a role in positively shaping conservation efforts on the ground.

“The purposes of this Act are to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved…”

Section 2(b) of the Endangered Species Act

I first encountered the ESA in my professional life through my studies in landscape ecology and public policy, and my acceptance into the Directorate Fellows Program—being placed in the National Wildlife Refuge System (which I later made a silly video about). During my time there, I tackled wildlife refuge related issues, including incorporating the human dimensions element into landscape conservation. As a fellow, I was given the opportunity to travel throughout the Northeastern United States to visit diverse landscapes protected by Refuges. I got to meet refuge managers and staff, friends groups, and other organizations who all shared a passion for threatened and endangered (T&E) species. At the end of my fellowship, I became convinced that conserving ecosystems was one of the most fundamental building blocks in protecting T&E species.

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Field Visit: Dulles Wildlife Inspector Office

Our wildlife policy team traveled to one of the outposts in the battle against wildlife trafficking—the Dulles International Airport’s Office of Law Enforcement Wildlife Inspector Office. Here, at this unassuming gateway, these officers spend their time investigating the illicit movements of endangered live wildlife and products.

An undeclared African elephant leather briefcase seized at the port
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Glamping

Cabbies

Brother, Cousins, and Grandma

Conservation and Bukit Fraser

My field trip to Bukit Fraser with Untamed Paths, nestled in the heart of Malaysia, was a rewarding conclusion to my most recent time in Southeast Asia. A day and a night spent there engaged in herpetology, entomology, and ornithology identification not only served as an active adventure but highlighted the necessity and relevance of the wildlife regulations that I am engaged in crafting and implementing.

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World Wildlife Day

Today marks the 9th annual World Wildlife Day and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). I was fortunate to play a role in assisting and participating in this week’s events in Washington, D.C.

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In Memoriam Laura Goldin

I was saddened to hear the news that my undergraduate thesis advisor, Laura Goldin, passed away late last week. Much of what I have been able to accomplish in my career in conservation—its catalyst—can be attributed to her. She was a tireless advocate for her students and a trailblazer, being part of the first class of women to graduate from Yale.

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