​Our Board

Lane McDonald

Executive director of VSI, and founding director of the Vermilion Sea Field Station in Bahía de los Ángeles, Lane McDonald has taught field biology courses in Baja California since 1974. In addition to his pioneering development of field classes in Baja, Lane has coordinated and taught courses in the Virgin Islands, the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia. After 38 years of teaching, he retired from Mira Costa College in Cardiff, California, yet he continues his ecological education work at Rancho San Gregorio and the Vermilion Sea Field Station. He is deeply involved in developing cultural and economic opportunities for sustainable environmental practices in the rural areas of Baja's high desert.

D. Graham Burnett

D. Graham Burnett is Professor of History of Science at Princeton University. He is currently a Guggenheim fellow. He is the author of four books, including two on the history of cetology, whales, and whaling. His book Trying Leviathan won the 2007 Hermalyn Prize in Urban History and the New York City Book Award in 2008. The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century is his most recent book. He has written essays for a variety of publications, including the The New Yorker, Harpers, The Economist, the American Scholar, Daedalus, The New York Times, and The Times Literary Supplement. He is an editor of Cabinet magazine, and serves on the editorial board of Lapham's Quarterly.

Aaron Hirsh

Chairman of VSI's board, Aaron Hirsh is a writer and biologist. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, various literary journals, and The Best American Science Writing. He is a member of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and his research, which concerns three main areas—molecular population genetics, epidemiology, and theoretical ecology—has been published in Science, Nature, and PNAS.  Hirsh cofounded the biotechnology company InterCell and serves on the board of Roberts & Company Publishers. His book Telling Our Way to the Sea: A Voyage of Discovery in the Sea of Cortez, was published in August by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Josh Maximon

Josh Maximon is a lawyer in the US and the UK. In addition to his legal practice centered in Boulder, Colorado, Josh pursues a scholarly interest in issues of international environmental law. Specifically, he writes on environmental treaties between The United States and Mexico, how they are structured and managed, and how they affect resource management in and around The Gulf of California.

Dmitri Petrov

Dmitri Petrov is a Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Biology Department at Stanford University. His lab does theoretical, computation, and experimental work to address questions in molecular evolution and molecular population genetics. The primary focus at the moment is on (i) population genetics and molecular mechanisms of adaptation and (ii) genome evolution. Dmitri has participated as a professor in many VSI classes at the Vermilion Sea Field Station.

Stephanie Stowell

Stephanie Stowell is a conservation education leader with more than sixteen years of program development, implementation, evaluation and management experience.  She worked for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) for a decade in a variety of capacities at NWF’s field offices and taught international field conservation courses for Miami University’s Global Field Program in Baja California, Mongolia, Borneo, and Belize.  She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Pueblo Zoological Society in Pueblo, Colorado.

Veronica Volny

Veronica Volny is the founder of Meadow Lark Farm Dinners, a company that reconnects people to their local foodshed. More generally, she works at the intersection of agriculture, environmental sustainability, and cultural life. Before she turned her attention to food and agriculture, she studied the molecular population genetics of marine mammals and social insects, completing her doctorate at Stanford University and a post-doctoral fellowship at UC—Berkeley. She has coordinated and led many courses at the Vermilion Sea Field Station.