aderby's picture

Abigail Derby Lewis

Conservation Ecologist

Action Center
Environmental Conservation

I began my professional career as a biological anthropologist studying primate behavior and comparative ecology. This path allowed me to live and work in some of the most biodiverse and threatened regions in the world, and fostered a profound and personal interest to become involved in applied research initiatives that contribute to sustainable management and environmental policy in a meaningful way. The transition to working on climate change impacts to biodiversity in the Chicago Wilderness region was a natural progression that grew from my graduate work on human-wildlife interactions.  A main goal of my current work is to help build and renew positive relationships between people and the environment as sustainable partnerships that communities are empowered to create and continue. 

Recent Blog Posts

Additional Information


2004-2008 Ph.D. Stony Brook University, New York, Biological Anthropology, Ecology

2000-2004 M.S. Stony Brook University, New York, Biological Anthropology

1995-1999 B.A. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Anthropology, Environmental Studies


Professional: Past and present climate change; Historical and current interactions between humans and the environment; Climate change impacts to biodiversity; Landscape and ecosystem-based approaches to mitigation and adaptation; Comparative ecology; Climate science education.

Personal: Being outdoors in any capacity (hiking, biking, kayaking, camping); Gardening and native landscaping; Supporting the local live music scene; Creative cooking; Travel, travel, travel.


Work experience

Conservation Ecologist, Department of Environment, Culture and Conservation, The Field Museum, March 2010-present

Contractor, Department of Environment, Culture and Conservation, The Field Museum, August 2009-February 2010

Member of the Chicago Wilderness Task Forces: Climate Change, Green Infrastructure Vision and Natural Resource Management, August 2009-present

Editor of Chicago Wilderness Climate Change Newsletter, May 2010-present

Field Course Instructor, Primate Behavioral Ecology and Conservation, Ometepe Biological Station, Nicaragua, May-June 2009

Undergrad Research Adviser, Student Summer Research Program, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL, May-August 2009

Adjunct Professor, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL Biological Science Department,January 2008-December 2009                     

Adjunct Professor, St. Francis University, Joliet, IL Biology Department, January-May 2009

Adjunct Professor, Kendall College, Environmental Sciences, Chicago, IL, August 2008-October 2009

Adjunct Professor, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL June-August 2006

Project leader and student advisor: School for International Training Ecuador, Comparative Ecology and Conservation course, May-December 2005

Committee Member: Scientists Concerned for Yasuní National Park, Ecuador, 2005-present