Dr. Rama Callan
I am a postdoctoral researcher with Global Cause at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. I was inspired to join the Global Cause team after listening to one of its scientists, Ben Kilham (benkilham.com), talk about the insights he gained into the behavior of black bears while raising and releasing orphaned black bear cubs in New Hampshire. Applying the hands-on methods Ben has developed, we are reintroducing captive bred giant panda cubs to their native range in the mountains of Sichuan Province. I am deeply honored to be part of this effort that spans continents and unites people in such a worthwhile goal.
As a member of the science team here in China, I work primarily in Dujiangyan at the Panda Valley research station. I interact with our second and third sets of cubs (Xing Yu and Xing Yuan and Ni Da and Ya Xiao) on a daily basis. I am fascinated by how unique and distinctive our cubs are in their personalities and behaviors. I have an especially close bond with Ni Da and Ya Xiao as I have been working with them since they were very small cubs. Once they are released, I will follow them closely to document the ecological role of giant pandas in the wild, an effort that has previously met with little success due to the difficulty of observing giant pandas in their natural habitat.
I previously taught wildlife conservation courses at the SUNY ESF Ranger School in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. My position with Global Cause will allow me to return to teaching with the experience of having worked on one of the most important conservation programs in recent history. Just as I was inspired by Ben’s work with black bears, I know that my future students will be fascinated by our unprecedented glimpses into the secret life of the elusive giant panda.
Dr. Jake Owens
Since 2014 I have been working to reintroduce giant pandas back into the wild as part of the Global Cause Science Team.
On an early autumn afternoon during the final months of my PhD, I received a phone call from Dr. Jim Spotila. He told me about an exciting opportunity to join the Global Cause team, where I could make a considerable impact on the conservation of giant pandas. A few months after that call, on March 6, 2014, I met my first panda, He Sheng, and any doubt I may have had about moving my life to the other side of the world melted away.
I’ve spent most of my life outdoors. Even as a toddler I was chasing snakes and lizards around the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia with my family. Throughout my young life, naturalism and science were always high on my list of priorities, so in undergrad I pursued a B.S. in biology. After finishing my bachelor’s at Stockton University, a small school in the New Jersey Pinelands, I participated in research projects around the globe, and completed my Ph.D. on primate ecology, behavior, and conservation at Drexel University. Although I never imagined myself here in China, working to save the giant pandas has been one of the most rewarding and exciting adventures of my life!