Jim Goetz is a conservation scientist from Upstate NY with a broad range of interests in natural history, behavioral ecology, behavioral economics, language, and understanding the intertwined social and ecological aspects of how people interact with each other and their natural environment.
After studying Biology and German at SUNY Potsdam, Jim lived in Europe for the next five years. He worked a few years in Germany as a translator, and later in taught English in Spain, and bicycled everywhere. In the mid 1990s, Jim returned to the US to start a new life as a field biologist, which included a heavy dose of fieldwork on Bicknell’s Thrush in Vermont and NY. Having irrevocably fallen with the wrong crowd, he pursued a Master’s degree at SUNY-ESF researching the fascinating breeding ecology of this enigmatic species – one of only a handful of migrant birds worldwide for which it is common for multiple males to feed nestlings at a single nest.
Bicknell’s Thrush fieldwork also spurred him to take a deep dive in the Caribbean, chiefly on Hispaniola, working and living in the Dominican Republic and Haiti for stints of up to three years. In addition to early distributional studies on Bicknell’s Thrush, Jim conducted path-breaking research the Black-capped Petrel and the Golden Swallow, learned Spanish and Haitian Kreyòl, and directed a forest conservation program in La Visite National Park, in Haiti.
At VCE Jim dedicates about a third of his time to coordinating the Bicknell’s conservation working group, IBTCG, and the rest to supporting Caribbean colleagues to develop local individual and organizational capacity to conserve local species and ecosystems.