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About Me

Growing up in northern Illinois (USA), I have always been excited about nature. Since then, I've had the privilege to work with dedicated conservation practitioners to manage threatened species and habitats around the world. Keen to learn more? Find my CV (abridged and full) detailing my conservation education, research, and practice below. 


Abridged Curriculum Vitae


2015-2019 - University of Canterbury - PhD in Biology

Dissertation Title: Conservation genomic management of critically endangered New Zealand birds.

2010-2013 - University of North Texas - MSc in Biology

Thesis Title: Determining the evolutionary distinctiveness of the Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken through a multi-locus phylogenetic analysis.

2005-2009 - Murray State University - BSc in Wildlife Biology

Undergraduate Research Title: Morus murrayana (Moraceae): a new mulberry from eastern North America

Conservation Practice & Research

2015-2019 - PhD Research in Conservation Genomics - University of Canterbury

Extractions - Resequencing - GBS - Bioinformatics - Pedigree Management - Microsatellites - Cons. Breeding Pairing Rx

2013-2015 - Habitat Conservation Coordinator - Texas Parks & Wildlife

Resource Planning - Habitat Monitoring - Invasive Plant Management - Revegetation - Wetland Management - GIS

2010-2013 - MSc Research in Conservation Genetics - University of North Texas

Phylogenetics - Coalescent Analyses - Sequencing - Conservation Recommendations

2010 - Ruffed Grouse Monitor - University of Minnesota

Auditory Triangulation - Vegetation Surveys - Bird Banding - Site Monitoring

2009-2010 - Biology Intern - Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge

Radio Telemetry - GIS - Invasive Plant Management - Bird Trapping - Bird Banding

2006-2009 - Entomology Research Assistant - The Morton Arboretum

Beetle and Moth Fecundity - Food Preference Studies - Ash Borer Detection

2009 - Coastal Waterbird Program Staff - Massachusetts Audubon

Avian Nest Monitoring - Data Collection & Management - Bird Trapping

2008 - Northeast Exotic Plant Management Team - Student Conservation Association

Invasive Plant Management - GIS Mapping

2019-2020 - Fixed-term Postdoctoral Researcher - University of Canterbury

Extractions - Resequencing - GBS - Bioinformatics - Pedigree Management - Microsatellites - Cons. Breeding Pairing Rx

2020-2022 - Postdoctoral Research Scientist - Boise State University

Agent-based models - Amplicon Sequencing - Microbiome - Conservation Management

2022-Present - Asst. Professor in Avian Biology - Boise State University

Amplicon Sequencing - Whole Genome Resequencing - Conservation Management

Select Research Talks

A Matchmakers Guide for Critically Endangered New Zealand Birds

2019 - Invited Talk - The Smithsonian Institution - Washington DC, USA

Conservation Genomic Management of Critically Endangered New Zealand Birds

2019 - AZA Molecular Scientific Advisory Group - San Diego, USA

Choosing the best individuals for pairing in conservation translocation breeding programmes: a Proof of Concept in a critically endangered New Zealand bird

2018 - 2nd International Wildlife Reintroduction Conference - Chicago, USA

Can genomes from distantly related species be used as a reference to inform conservation management? 

2018 - Society for Conservation Biology Oceania - Wellington, New Zealand

Estimating relatedness in captive breeding for translocation programmes to enhance species recovery 

2017 - International Congress for Conservation Biology Oceania - Cartagena, Colombia

Exploring the Evolutionary Distinctiveness of the Attwater's Prairie-chicken using multi-locus coalescent analyses

2012 - North American Ornithological Conference - Vancouver, Canada

Integrating multiple data types for personalized management of at-risk herbivores: case studies in North America and Iceland

2021 - Talk - International Congress for Conservation Biology - Virtual

Pathways to trusted and meaningful relationships between conservation geneticists and practitioners

2021 - Symposium & Roundtable Organizer - International Congress for Conservation Biology - Virtual

Creating a genetically explicit individual-based model to understand climate-driven laydate shifts in American Kestrels (Falco sparverius)

2021 - Invited Speaker - Raptor Research Foundation Conference - Virtual

A meta-analysis of genes underlying adaptive capacity of plants towards drought.”

2020 - Invited Speaker - GEM3 Annual Meeting - Virtual

Grants & Scholarships

Funding recipient from the American Kestrel Partnership - 2022

Applicant: SJ Galla - $21,808.00 US

Endeavour Fund Smart Ideas Grant - 2021

Applicant: TE Steeves (SJ Galla, Key Researcher) - $999,999 NZ

UC PhD Scholarship and Departmental 6-month Continuation Scholarship - 2015-2019

Applicant: SJ Galla - $99,000 NZ (Stipend + Tuition + Fees)


Brian Mason Technical Trust Research Award - 2015-2018

Applicants: SJ Galla and TE Steeves - $14,061 NZ


UNT Tuition Scholarship - 2010-2013

Applicant: SJ Galla - $65,000 US (Stipend + Tuition + Fees)


UNT Graduate Student Support Travel Grant - 2012

Applicant: SJ Galla - $600 US


Travel Grant for the 2012 Species Tree Workshop at the Ohio State University - 2012

Applicant: SJ Galla - $500 US

Maria Athey Research Fund through the Kentucky Academy of Science - 2007

Applicants: SJ Galla and DE Saar - $500 US

Select Awards

UC Annual Biological Sciences Conference, Science Communication Award, 2020

Society for Conservation Biology Oceania, Best Student Paper, 2019


UC College of Science Three Minute Thesis, First Place, 2018


Australasian Ornithological Conference, Outstanding Student Talk, 2017

Society for Conservation Biology Oceania, Best Research Talk, 2017


UC Annual Biological Conference, ‘Best in Show’ Research Talk, 2016, 2019

MapNet, Early Career Researcher Award (1st Place) for Research Talk, 2016


Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Cottom Award (1st Place) in Research Talk, 2014

UNT Outstanding TA Award, Spring 2013

Murray State University Wildlife Student of the Year, 2008

Teaching & Mentorship

Mentor & Lecturer, Boise State University, 2022

Co-lead on 2 VIP Courses: "C3: Characterizing Complex Communities" and "Ecology & Evolution of Migratory Birds"

Mentor, Boise State University, 2020

VIP Genome-2-Phenome Project Mentor (2 Students), SARE Project Mentor (2 students)

Fixed-term Lecturer, University of Canterbury, 2018-2019

Lectures in BIOL271 (Evolution) and labs in BIOL112 (Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation)


Demonstrator, University of Canterbury, 2016-2018

Labs in BIOL112 (Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation) and BIOL113 (Diversity of Life)

Research Mentor, University of Canterbury, 2017-2019

Honours Student - “You’re the only one for me? An assessment of extra pair parentage in a critically-endangered bird with implications for conservation”

Research Mentor, University of Canterbury, 2016-2017

Summer Student - "Calculating relatedness using genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in domestic chicken (Gallus gallus) with application to captive breeding for translocation programmes”


Teaching Assistant, University of North Texas, 2010-2013

Taught BIOL: 3452 (Genetics Laboratory) - proctored BIOL: 1711 (Principles of Biology) and proctored BIOL1132 (Environmental Science)

Outreach, Advocacy, Dissemination

School Outreach, 2015-2019

Conservation & Genomics Outreach at Schools (Grades K-12) across Aotearoa New Zealand

Braided River Awareness and Fundraising Auction, 2016

Organiser - Raised Profile for Kakī and $10K NZ for Kakī Conservation

Designer of 2020 Tūtūruatu RocketLab Mission Patch

>6K NZD Raised for Tūtūruatu Conservation

Designer of 2020 American Kestrel Partnership campaign t-shirt

>10K USD Raised for the American Kestrel Partnership

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