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Project PI

Alton C. Byers, Ph.D. is a mountain geographer, conservationist, and mountaineer specializing in applied research, high altitude ecosystems, climate change, glacier hazards, and integrated conservation and development programs. He received both his B.A. (1975) and doctorate (1987) from the University of Colorado at Boulder, the latter focusing on landscape change, soil erosion, and vegetation dynamics in the Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal. He joined The Mountain Institute (TMI) in 1990 as Environmental Advisor, working as Co-Manager of the Makalu-Barun National Park (Nepal Programs), Founder/Director of Andean Programs, Director of Appalachian Programs, and Founder/Director of Research and Exploration Programs. In 2015 he joined the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder as Senior Scientist and Faculty.



Kunsang Choden is from Trok, Nubri, a village in the upper Manaslu region of Nepal. She is currently an undergraduate student at Washington University in St. Louis [Class of 2021], pursuing Anthropology: Global Health and Environment with a minor in Environmental Analysis.



Broughton Coburn, of Wilson, Wyoming, is a Visiting Assistant Professor for Colorado College, and has worked on conservation and development projects in Nepal and south Asia for two of the past five decades. He has written or edited nine books, including two US national bestsellers.



Shailendra Thakali, Ph.D., a native from Mustang, is conservation and tourism professional specializing in integrated conservation and development programs, community based tourism, environmental governance, protected area management and livelihood programs. He received his master's (1994) and doctorate (2012) from the University of Surry (UK) and Lincoln University (New Zealand), respectively. He worked for number of national and international organizations, including the National Trust for Nature Conservation, the Mountain Institute, the UKAid, UNDP, Snow Leopard Conservancy and Mountain Spirit as Director, Project Manager, Advisor, and Team Leader. He is currently working as a Freelance consultant and is the founder and director of CTC consultancy (conservation and tourism for communities) and is based in Kathmandu, Nepal.


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Lakpa Nurbu Sherpa is from the Makalu-Barun region in eastern Nepal. He is an Everest summiter, trekking leader, naturalist, and philanthropist who has constructed over 25 schools in his home district. In 2006, Lakpafounded his own company, Family Alpine Trek and Expeditions http://www.alpinetrek.com.np which organizes trekking, climbing, and natural history expeditions throughout the Nepal Himalaya.



Ngawang Thapke Sherpa is from the Everest region of Nepal. He completed his Master’s degree in Natural Resources Management and Ecological Engineering from Lincoln University (New Zealand) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Vienna, Austria) in 2020. He is a recipient of the Mingma Norbu Sherpa Memorial Scholarship, and has worked for the the non-profit organization Mountain Spirit in the capacity of Program Officer and Project Manager. He is currently working as a consultant in a snow leopard conservation project, funded by Darwin Initiative (DI) and implemented by the Snow Leopard Conservancy and Mountain Spirit.