The conservation of intact, healthy ecosystems is the first line of defense against the spillover of zoonotic diseases.
Catherine E. Semcer
Catherine E. Semcer is a research fellow with the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) and is the lead researcher with the Wild Africa Initiative. Catherine’s research interests include wildlife trade and trafficking, conservation law enforcement, the sustainable use of biodiversity, environmental security, conservation geopolitics, public-private partnerships for conservation, community-based natural resources management, the role of private capital in delivering conservation outcomes, and ecological and climate risk mitigation.
Catherine is the past chief operating officer of Humanitarian Operations Protecting Elephants (H.O.P.E.), a boutique NGO delivering training, advisory, assistance, and procurement services to African anti-poaching programs. During her tenure with H.O.P.E., she was responsible for leading the opening of projects in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Ethiopia.
Prior to working with H.O.P.E. Catherine served as Senior Washington D.C. Representative for Sierra Club, where she worked to advance conservation programs in the Department of Defense to increase training range sustainability including furthering efforts to conserve the Greater Sage Grouse. Her work led to her being recognized by the USDA-NRCS for “outstanding contributions” to their Sage Grouse Initiative. Catherine began her career with McKinsey & Company where she supported the Environmental and Non-Profit Practices.
Catherine’s research and commentary have appeared in the International Journal of Environmental Studies, The Hill, The Woodrow Wilson Center’s New Security Beat, Homeland Security Today, and other publications. She has also been a guest on programs including Climate One, Intelligence Squared U.S., and EconTalk, where she has debated and discussed the political economy of African wildlife conservation.
In addition to her work with PERC, Catherine serves as a research fellow with the African Wildlife Economy Institute at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. She is also a member of the Board of Advisors of the Game Rangers Association of Africa and is a member of Sustainable Use and Livelihood’s Specialist Group International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Catherine is a graduate of Muhlenberg College. In her spare time, she enjoys sailing, trekking, and tending her pollinator garden.