David O’Connor, M.S.


David O’Connor serves San Diego Zoo Global as a Researcher in Population Sustainability. In this role, he uses participatory, stakeholder-driven approaches to conduct community-based conservation and research with numerous collaborators around the world. He is also the instructor of the "Socio-Ecological Methods in Conservation" course through the University of Miami’s Advanced Inquiry Program. David is also a member of the IUCN Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, and the IUCN Bear Specialist Group.

David uses socio-ecological methods to understand human-wildlife-livestock interactions in an effort to inform and develop conservation programs, primarily in developing nations. He is currently leading our giraffe conservation program with pastoralists in northern Kenya, and assisting in our work with the Giraffe Center, Reteti Elephant Rescue Center, Sera Black Rhino Sanctuary, Ishaqbini Hirola Sanctuary, Lewa Conservancy, and Loisaba Conservancy. In addition to working in East Africa, David also works with the Conservation Education team and in-country collaborators on understanding and addressing the illegal trade in bears and bear parts, saiga horn and tiger parts in Southeast Asia. Previously David was involved in developing remote sensing technology for the critically endangered vaquita porpoise in Baja California, Mexico.

David earned his bachelor’s degree in Zoology and Earth Science from University College Cork, Ireland, his graduate diploma in Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate School of Business at University College, Dublin, and his master’s degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Michigan. In 2017 while continuing his work and conservation programs with the Institute, David begins his Ph.D. in giraffe movement ecology with Senckenberg Biodiversity & Climate Research Centre and Goethe University, Frankfurt.