Mimi Kessler ’01

Mimi Kessler
Dr. Mimi Kessler is an avian biologist whose work focuses on the ecology and conservation of bustard species in Eurasia. She integrates spatial analyses and field data with an understanding of a region’s cultures, history, and economy to develop effective conservation policies.

Dr. Kessler's first experience in Eurasia was via a high school exchange to Russia. In college, she majored in Environmental Sciences and Russian Area Studies. During this time, she successfully advocated to be the first Wellesley student to study abroad in Uzbekistan. Dr. Kessler has now spent over seven cumulative years in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan. Much of this time has been in the remote backcountry, working with teams of local people. Dr. Kessler began to work with Great Bustards, the heaviest animals capable of flight, in 2005. She earned a PhD in Biology for a community-based research and conservation program that she spearheaded on the endangered eastern subspecies of Great Bustard in Mongolia. Her team's research revealed long-distance migration by bustards in Asia, and a high rate of mortality along those pathways. Over the last ten years, she has worked to build consensus for increased international protections for these birds across the migratory flyway, particularly through the framework of the Convention on Migratory Species. She is also engaged in work to mitigate the impacts of renewable energy and other infrastructure development on threatened bird species. Dr. Kessler leads a research and conservation collaborative, the Eurasian Bustard Alliance. She serves as Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Bustard Specialist Group, which promotes bustard research and conservation globally through information exchange and cooperation.