Eric Strauss, Ph.D., Executive Director
Dr. Eric Strauss serves as President's Professor of Biology at Loyola Marymount University and Executive Director of CURes. With collaborative research specialties in animal behavior, endangered species management, urban ecosystems and science education, Eric has extended the model for faculty scholarship by co-founding the Urban Ecology Institute in Boston while he served as a faculty member at Boston College and CURes in LA, both of which provide educational, research and restoration programs to under-served neighborhoods and their residents.
In addition, Dr. Strauss is the Founding Editor of a web-based peer-reviewed journal, Cities and the Environment, which is funded in part by the USDA Forest Service. His research includes collaborative long-term studies of coyotes, White tailed deer, crows, turtles and other vertebrates, with a specialty in understanding wildlife in urban areas and the appropriate management responses to wildlife problems and zoonotic disease. His work also includes investigating the role of green space and urban forests in supporting of healthy neighborhoods and how those features can be used to improve science education and restorative justice. He has co-written multi-media textbooks in biology and urban ecology as well as hosting multiple video series on the life sciences and ecology. Dr. Strauss received his BS in Mass Communication from Emerson College and Ph.D. in Biology from Tufts University in 1990.
Michele Romolini, Ph.D., Managing Director
Dr. Michele Romolini specializes in social scientific research related to urban ecology, with main areas of expertise in environmental governance and green infrastructure. She received her PhD in Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, and a Master's of Environmental Studies and BA in Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. She has also completed professional development trainings in leadership, project planning, restorative practices, and equity. Her published work can be found in the CURes’ Virtual Hub.
As CURes' Managing Director, Dr. Romolini works to develop new research collaborations, secure funding for projects, and integrate social and ecological research questions. She leads several CURes research projects, in particular tree canopy mapping and prioritization, stewardship networks, and urban parks and greening. She also works closely with the CURes-led So Cal Restorative Justice Consortium and related Empowerment Evaluation research. Dr. Romolini’s work is inherently collaborative and includes partnerships with faculty and staff at LMU and other universities, USDA Forest Service scientists, and community-based practitioners. She has taught courses on both social and ecological topics, and mentors independent student research. Students are invited to contact her about research opportunities.
Lisa Fimiani, Gottlieb Environmental Leadership Fellow
Serving as the Dan and Susan Gottlieb Environmental Leadership Fellow with Loyola Marymount University's Center for Urban Resilience (CURes) for the past four years and now The Drollinger Environmental Leadership Fellow, Lisa Fimiani has reached thousands of Angelenos teaching the principles of the Gottlieb Native Garden while inspiring visitors to Ballona Discovery Park through informational tours and education programs. As part of her responsibilities Lisa also serves as an ambassador to support other CURes staff members in the community with education initiatives, as well as represent CURes at events and functions.
Over the past 30 years Lisa acquired extensive knowledge of birds, insects, and other wildlife in Southern California as the Friends of Ballona Wetlands Executive Director for 7 years, Docent at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh for 19 years, and Board member for over 17 years. Lisa has also served 16 years on the Audubon California and Los Angeles Audubon Society non-profit Boards. Her understanding of urban interfaces and nature in the second largest city in America has given her practical experience dealing with associated challenges and qualifies her as an ideal urban "naturalist." Lisa received her BA in Mass Communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is a locally certified Master Gardener and Restoration Specialist.
Schoene Mahmood, Program Manager, Restorative Justice Project
Ms. Schoene Mahmood brings 16 years of experience with Restorative Justice Practices at LMU. Schoene currently serves as the Program Manager of the Restorative Justice Project to develop RJP curriculum and provide educational trainings that include on-going skill-building workshops for K-12 school community members. Extending the reach to higher-education stakeholders, she is partnering with the LMU Office of Student Affairs to implement Restorative Practices campus-wide at LMU. Most recently, LMU CURes was awarded a grant to establish the Southern California Restorative Justice Consortium. Schoene is overseeing the So Cal Consortium which aims to educate future generations of RJ leaders for scholarship, practice, and implementation, and create a regional model that can be replicated nationwide.
Before joining CURes, Schoene facilitated Community Conferences for 400+ juvenile expulsion, arrest, and court-diversion cases referred by the Maryland State Attorney office, the Department of Juvenile Services, the Baltimore City Police Department, and Baltimore City schools while working at the Community Conferencing Center. Her training is informed by Dr. Lauren Abramson, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute; Dr. Beverly Title, author and co-founder of Longmont Community Justice partnership; and Kay Pranis, national leader in Peacemaking Circles. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2011, Schoene has facilitated 300+ Restorative Conferences.
Melinda Weaver, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Melinda Weaver, Cures' postdoctoral fellow, is an urban ecologist who will primarily be responsible for the coyote long-term management project. Her primary questions involve how urbanization affects animal populations and how animals respond to changes in their environments. She is especially interested in the interactions between humans and animals in urban areas, which is why she is so excited to work on urban coyotes.
Dr. Weaver received her Ph.D. in animal behavior at Arizona State University, studying behavioral differences in birds across an urban gradient. she also spent six months in India studying urban wild dog populations during that time. While working toward her Ph.D., she also served as an adjunct professor and teaching assistant for many courses, such as human anatomy, animal behavior, behavioral ecology and introductory biology, and has mentored more than 75 undergraduate students who worked on her field team. Dr. Weaver received her B.S. in Journalism at the University of Kansas. She has worked as a sports reporter and owned a dog training business.
Roya Shahnazari, MBA Candidate,
Roya Shahnazari is a graduate student at Loyola Marymount University working towards earning her MBA with an emphasis in Marketing. As Project Specialist with the Center for Urban Resilience, Roya works alongside the CURes team to support administrative, financial, and marketing efforts, among others, within the organization’s various projects and initiatives. Roya actively seeks out opportunities for involvement in projects centered around diversity, community engagement, philanthropy, and sustainability. Roya’s overarching role as a Project Specialist is to support the CURes team in their mission to empower local communities, protect environmental and social ecosystems, and work towards creating an overall positive and sustainable impact.
Roya received her BA in Business Economics at the University of California, Irvine. Roya has an expansive skill set from serving in various professional roles, with an emphasis on business development, marketing, design, finance, accounting, and management. Roya has gained workplace experience in a range of industries including healthcare, legal, and commercial real estate, bringing forth a unique knowledge of the social ecology and dichotomy between cross-functional sectors and their various impacts on economic and environmental welfare.