Project Personnel

Zara McDonald
President, Felidae Conservation Fund
Entrepreneur and conservationist Zara McDonald is Founder and President of Felidae. A Bay Area native, Zara holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She co-founded Volcano, Inc, bringing the first GPS technology to the wrists of recreating masses, and subsequently pioneered Veda Ventures, LLC an equity model targeting early stage companies in the natural product space. She works in the regenerative medicine and natural products space as Managing Director of Third i Partners, LLC, an advisory and consulting firm representing early stage ventures.

Zara came into contact with mountain lions on two separate occasions during trail runs in Marin County, and began allocating time to wildlife ecology and veterinary studies. She formed Felidae in 2006 to research and conserve wild cats as apex predators and keystone species in ecosystems throughout the world. She is an experienced field and veterinary technician and has worked extensively in all areas of felid research, tracking and monitoring animals in collaborative efforts around the world. Zara has journeyed all over the world to work on behalf of wild cat research and conservation.

Dr. David Stoner
Principal Investigator, Bay Area Puma Project
David C. Stoner is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. David received his BA from the Department of Geography at UC Berkeley, and holds graduate degrees from USU, where he investigated the effects of urbanization, habitat fragmentation, and exploitation on cougar behavior and population dynamics. His current work is focused on ungulate migration patterns and habitat use in response to plant phenology, snowpack dynamics, and predation risk. He has worked for the US Forest Service, UC Santa Cruz's Predatory Bird Research Group as well as the USGS Biological Resources Division, Humboldt State University and the California Department of Fish and Game. His interests are in the application of landscape and behavioral ecology to the conservation of mammals and birds.

Dr. Courtney Coon
Co-Principal Investigator and Lead Field Biologist
Courtney is a central California native with a bachelors in animal biology from UC Davis and a PhD from the University of South Florida. She is generally interested in examining the role of host and environmental variation in animal health. For her graduate degree, she primarily investigated the ecological interactions between a recently invaded songbird, its native competitors, and their shared parasites in Kenya. After completing graduate school, she worked for two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pretoria in South Africa where she studied infection incidence and immunity in wild African buffalo inside a wildlife preserve and domestic cattle that live near the preserve boundaries. Findings from this study are being used to develop an effective disease control program that considers aspects of individual physiological risk factors. Email Courtney at courtneycoon@felidaefund.org.

Eugene DeRango
Field Biologist Technician
Geno is a Field Biologist Technician for the Bay Area Puma Project. Geno is currently finishing a MS degree in Biology at Sonoma State University where he is investigating the physiological response to environmental stress in marine mammals, specifically sea lions. Geno is originally from Chicago where he earned his BA in field biology from Knox College in 2008 and then later lived in Alaska, which allowed him to work in a variety of zoological institutions and gain experience with many species, such as marsupials, birds, hoofstock, seals, otters, bears and big cats. Geno has also worked on several collaborative international research projects leading field captures with sea lions and fur seals in both Chile and Mexico.

As a Bay Area transplant, Geno has a fondness for the diverse ecosystems in California and a passion for conservation studies with the apex predators that live in them. He is thrilled to be working on a project that will protect local pumas and their ecosystems. Geno’s interests and hobbies usually involve the outdoors, such as hiking, biking and camping all over the Bay Area and beyond, traveling, photography and reading scientific literature. Email Geno at gderango@felidaefund.org.

Ally Nauer
Biologist and Development Manager, Felidae Conservation Fund
Ally is the Development Manager for Felidae. She graduated from the University of Portland in 2010 with a degree in environmental science and ecology.

Ally has been interested in nature and conservation since childhood, avidly exploring the entirety of Washington state from the Olympic Peninsula to Mount Rainier to the Enchantments and Eastern Washington since she was in elementary school. Ally's interests include skiing (cross-country, skate, telemark), yoga, trail running, nature photography, and reading scientific literature about wild cat ecology and conservation.

As the Development Manager at Felidae, Ally works in the office, at events, in the field, and aids with the CAT Aware Education Program. She has been with Felidae since 2008. Email Ally at allycat@felidaefund.org.