Thea Wang, Ph.D.


Dr. Thea Wang serves San Diego Zoo Global as a Researcher in Recovery Ecology. She first joined the Institute as a Postdoctoral Associate on a project to translocate endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rats. Since then, she has worked with several endangered heteromyid rodent species, including Stephens’ kangaroo rats and Pacific pocket mice. Thea organizes and manages volunteer field assistants and employees for post-translocation monitoring and behavioral experiments. Thea also contributes to written reports, research proposals, and permitting.

Thea is currently working on two projects with San Bernardino kangaroo rats. This small elusive kangaroo rat inhabits alluvial sage scrub in only three remaining waterways in Southern California. Due to their secretive nature and large natural population fluctuations, little is known about how the subspecies is impacted by rapid urban expansion. One anthropogenic stressor for nocturnal wildlife is artificial light at night. Thea is studying the effect of artificial light at night on kangaroo rat foraging and other behaviors. In addition, Thea is working to collect genetic samples from the three remaining populations to determine the current level of conductivity between the populations.

Thea received her doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from University of California, Los Angeles, studying the social behavior of yellow-bellied marmots in the White Mountains of California. At UCLA, Thea was a fellow in the National Science Foundation’s GK-12 Education program and the U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need program. She has provided lectures in UCLA’s Animal Behavior course. Thea has adopted two rescued guinea pigs and enjoys kayaking, camping, and surfing.