Who We Are

We are a group of academics, environmental professionals and community partners committed to improving the quality of life in our urban communities, especially those that have been historically underserved. We have expertise in science, policy, ethics, natural history, urban planning and educational practices.


Eric Strauss, Ph.D., Executive Director

Eric EDITEDDr. Eric Strauss serves as President’s Professor of Biology at Loyola Marymount University and Executive Director of CURes. With collaborative research specialties in animal behavior, endangered species management, urban ecosystems and science education, Eric has extended the model for faculty scholarship by co-founding the Urban Ecology Institute in Boston while he served as a faculty member at Boston College and CURes in LA, both of which provide educational, research and restoration programs to underserved neighborhoods and their residents. In addition, Dr. Strauss is the Founding Editor of a web-based peer-reviewed journal, Cities and the Environment, which is funded in part by the USDA Forest Service. His research includes collaborative long term studies of coyotes, White tailed deer, crows, turtles and other vertebrates, with a specialty in understanding wildlife in urban areas and the appropriate management responses to wildlife problems and zoonotic disease. His work also includes investigating the role of green space and urban forests in supporting of healthy neighborhoods and how those features can be used to improve science education and restorative justice. He has co-written multi-media textbooks in biology and urban ecology as well as hosting multiple video series on the life sciences and ecology. Dr. Strauss received his BS in Mass Communication from Emerson College and Ph.D. in Biology from Tufts University in 1990.

Email Dr. Strauss: eric.strauss@lmu.edu


Schoene Mahmood, Restorative Justice Specialist, Restorative Justice Project

Schoene EDITEDMs. Schoene Mahmood brings over a decade of experience implementing Restorative Practices programs at schools and facilitating court-diversion cases within the Juvenile Justice System. She currently serves as the Restorative Justice specialist at CURes. In partnership with Los Angeles area schools, Schoene provides Restorative Practices educational trainings, on-going skill-building workshops, and Community Conferencing services. Before joining CURes, she facilitated court diversion cases at the Community Conferencing Center in Baltimore, Maryland. She handled cases referred by the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Office, Department of Juvenile Services, Baltimore City Police Department, and Baltimore City Schools. She received her B.A. in General Studies with an emphasis in Psychology, Philosophy, and Business from the University of Missouri.

Email Schoene: schoene.mahmood@lmu.edu



Michele Romolini, Ph.D., Director of Research

Michele EDITEDDr. Michele Romolini came to CURes in 2013, after completing a Ph.D. in Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, and a Master’s of Environmental Studies and B.A. in Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in social scientific research related to urban ecology, with her main areas of expertise in urban environmental governance and green infrastructure. As the Director of Research at CURes, she works to develop new research collaborations, secure funding for projects, and integrate social and ecological research questions. Dr. Romolini is the lead on three main projects: 1) L.A. Stew-MAP, a project to inventory and map all of the environmental stewardship activities conducted by organizations in Los Angeles, 2) L.A. Tree Canopy Assessment and Prioritization Project, a collaboration with University of Vermont and Savatree that uses fine resolution imagery and LiDAR data to categorize land cover in Los Angeles County, including parcel-level analyses of existing and possible tree canopy, and 3) Baldwin Hills Park User Study, a longitudinal analysis of park user behavior and attitudes in the Baldwin Hills park system. She works closely with faculty at LMU and other universities, USDA Forest Service scientists, and non-profit leaders. As part-time LMU faculty, Dr, Romolini teaches courses on both social and ecological topics. Students are invited to contact Dr. Romolini about possible research opportunities.

Email Dr. Romolini: michele.romolini@lmu.edu


Stacy Sinclair, EdD, Acting Director, Education Outreach

Dr. Stacy Sinclair brings over twenty years of experience in K12 and higher education, curriculum development and professional training.  She currently teaches Environmental Studies at LMU, works in the Environmental Compliance and Sustainability Department at LA Metro, and is completing a second master’s degree in Environmental Sciece. She is author of the award-winning book, “Designing Healthy Communities” (2012, Wiley Press), and is doing research on microplastics and their relationship to urban centers.

Email Stacy: stacysinclair@lmu.edu


Peter J. Auger, Ph.D., Senior Scientist & Operations Manager

Auger EDITEDDr. Pete Auger is a wildlife field biologist with particular interest in experimental design associated with animal consciousness and behavior. He has designed and conducted environmental research studies on insects, reptiles, birds and predatory mammals and has developed innovative methodology to incorporate both students and educators into these investigations.

Dr. Auger holds an undergraduate degree from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in biology from Tufts University. He has received numerous teaching and coaching (baseball) awards at the high school, college undergraduate and graduate levels. His current research focuses on common and endangered wildlife species in Southern CA, Cape Cod, MA and Costa Rica.

Email Dr. Auger: peter.auger@lmu.edu



Erich Eberts, Research Fellow

Erich Photo for WebsiteErich Eberts graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2016, receiving a B.S. in Biology. As the CURes Research Fellow, Erich manages undergraduate student researchers and interns, carries out his own research projects, and works with Green LMU to develop campus sustainability initiatives. His research interests include avian ecology in the context of the urban ecosystem and global climate change. His current projects involve hummingbird nesting ecology, least tern-american crow interactions at Venice Beach, and crow cognition. His educational and professional goals are to attain a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution and to pursue a career in field biology through academia.

Email Erich: erich.eberts@lmu.edu


Shinina T. Butler, JD, LLM, Restorative Practices Specialist, Restorative Justice Project

Shinina worked as a corporate and consumer rights attorney for more than 14 years before joining the CURes team.  She obtained an LLM in conflict resolution in 2007, and she has  extensive experience mediating, facilitating and training youth and adults in diverse contexts. Her work includes conflict resolution training for students and educators and peer mediation implementation in Los Angeles elementary and middle schools.  She uses restorative justice principles to mediate youth victim-offender and family cases, and she facilitates dialogues with communities on public issues and policies.  Shinina has been working with Mediators Beyond Borders for over three years as co – team leader of their Uganda project.  The team is collaborating with local organizations in southwestern Uganda to assess land related conflict dynamics and develop a system to manage the disputes. Shinina received a B.A. from Brown University, J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and an LLM from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution – Pepperdine University School of Law. 

Email Shinina: shinina.butler@lmu.edu



James Landry, Ph.D., Senior Fellow 

Jim EDITEDJames Landry is Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as Director of the Environmental Science Program at Loyola Marymount University. He has held a variety of administrative positions at LMU since joining the faculty in 1984 including Chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department (1992-1996), Director and founding Chair of the Natural Science Department (1995-2007), Director of the University Honors Program (2000-2003), Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Science and Engineering (2007-2012), and most recently interim Vice Provost for Enrollment Management (2012-2013). He serves on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Ballona Wetlands and the Ballona Discovery Park Partners. His research has included collaboration with the Getty Conservation Institute developing methods of analysis of art objects using infrared microspectroscopy and determining museum environments employing gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. He was awarded a patent for the development of a low-tech application process for a coating that allows visible light to pass through but blocks heat. His current research interests include the determination of heavy metal levels in the Ballona Wetlands as this degraded urban wetlands begins the process of restoration and the use of low cost monitors for air quality analysis.

Email Dr. Landry: james.landry@lmu.edu


John H. Dorsey, Ph.D., Senior Fellow 

Jogn EDITEDJohn Dorsey received his B.S. in Marine Biology (1972) and M.S. in Biology (1975) from California State University, Long Beach, then traveled to Australia where he received his doctorate from the University of Melbourne in Zoology (1982). Presently he is a Professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, in the Department of Civil Engineering & Environmental Science where he teaches courses in environmental, atmospheric and marine sciences. Prior to LMU, he worked as a marine biologist for the City of Los Angeles (1983-2002), focusing on marine monitoring in Santa Monica Bay and storm water management. John sits on numerous local and state technical committees dealing with water quality issues and policy, and is past-president of the Southern California Academy of Science where he remains an active member of their Board of Directors and Research Training Program for high school students. His research interests focus on the dynamics of fecal indicator bacteria in coastal waters and wetlands. John’s passion for good water quality is natural — he is an avid surfer, so most days he can be found at dawn surfing at El Porto near his home and LMU’s campus.

Email Dr. Dorsey: john.dorsey@lmu.edu


Lisa Fimiani, Fellow

Lisa EDITEDExecutive Director since July 2010 (and Co-Executive Director before that since July 2009), Lisa Fimiani has been involved with Friends of Ballona Wetlands for more than twenty five years. In 2005, Fimiani became a member of the group’s board of directors. In June of 2006 Lisa rotated off the Audubon California Board after serving 6 years, and joined the Board of the Los Angeles Audubon Society chapter as treasurer for 6 years, currently serving as an at-large Board Member. Lisa formed her own native-plant-design consulting firm in 2007. In the Spring of 2007 Lisa completed the Master Gardener volunteer training program through the University of California Cooperative Extension, and became certified as a Master Gardener in 2008. She also has a 2006 certificate in environmental restoration, specializing in native plants.

As a Fellow with the Center for Urban Resilience at Loyola Marymount University since 2011, Lisa reaches students and teachers through the Urban Eco Lab curriculum being designed by the Center, focusing on birds and native plants as natural teaching tools of the environment. This has included doing bird counts as part of a program to measure the diversity of species, to putting in native plant demonstration gardens with students actively participating.

Her own yard in Los Angeles is certified as a National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat, Xerces Pollinator Garden, and Monarch Waystation. In January 2014 her front yard lawn and parkway were converted to a drought tolerant garden as part of the LADWP SoCal Water$mart Residential Turf Removal Program.


Richard Shope, Ed. D., Community Science Research Fellow

Shope EDITEDRichard Shope is a science educator who directs research, education and workforce development programs for urban youth. He is the Vice President of the World Space Foundation; Program Development Officer at the Youth Science Center (as a Consultant with Shope Performance Group); Founding Director of Urban Science Corps; Director of EcoVoices at the San Gabriel River Discovery Center and Artistic Director of the Sci Mi Theatre.

Prior to coming to CURes, Shope was the Science Communicator and Educator for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 15 years, where he coordinated education and outreach programs for various flight projects at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Through this program, he focused on reaching urban youth and rural American Indian youth nationwide. With over 40 years of experience as a poet, mime artist, and educator, Shope is known for his abilities to communicate science through narrative mime.  He first encountered the art of mime in the midst of university studies in intercultural communications. Mentored by Marcel Marceau and Mamako Yoneyama, he has performed as a professional mime artist since 1971. He created Mimewrighting, a kinesthetic teaching method that has reached over a million schoolchildren, nationwide and throughout Mexico. Shope holds a B.A. degree at Antioch University Los Angeles; M.S.Ed. and Ed.D. degrees in Science Education at the University of Southern California. Research/Practitioner interests include: inquiry-driven informal science education and teaching for conceptual change. He has served on the Board of the California Association for the Gifted, the Los Angeles County Science & Engineering Fair Committee and the Governing Board of the Ambassador School of Global Leadership.