Our Board


Gurram Gopal 

Dr. Gopal completed his BTech in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, and earned an MS and a PhD in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. He enjoys the outdoors and is an avid runner (completed five Chicago Marathons!). Website

As a business professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology with a keen interest in sustainable living and sustainable economies, I am dedicated to educating the current managers and developing the future business leaders who will integrate sustainability and diversity into their decision-making and serve all species on the planet.

My formal education in sustainability and bio-diversity evolved gradually starting in 2006 when I developed a First Year Seminar course titled “Local Choices, Global Effects” which introduced the consequences of choices to undergraduates. I co-taught this course for several years with the Dean of Residence Life, Ms. Christine Smith, who enabled the students to live these concepts in their residence halls.

Through this course the students gained hands-on experience of the consequences of their choices in food and energy consumption, and in waste management. They performed Waste Audit of the campus cafeteria to assess the effectiveness of their recycling efforts, explored the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to understand the diversity of species and the importance of protecting it, visited the Jardine Water Purification Plant (the largest water filtration plant in the world), and the Elmhurst Water Reclamation Facility to observe the water use cycle from water intake to release of treated wastewater into the river.

Habitat loss is the primary driver of species extinction which is exacerbated by global climate change. The Society for Biodiversity Preservation was founded on the deep desire and the urgent need to preserve, restore, and/or create habitats for native species across the country and the world. Currently it funds small scale habitat restoration projects in public institutions (e.g. schools, places of worship) which can provide for continued stewardship of restored sites. SBP also supports environmental cleanup activities, citizen science projects, education and outreach in conserving natural resources, and community activities that focus on protecting local flora and fauna.

The SBP, which was started with extremely generous contributions from Microsoft Corporation as part of its employee matching program, has the ultimate goal of fostering committed environmental stewards among the younger generations for continued protection of our planet’s biodiversity.


Shyamala Rajan

Dr. Rajan completed her BSc at Osmania University, Hyderabad, India, earned a PhD in Biochemistry from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, and a Master’s in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. Website

Coming from a long line of environmentally conscious agriculturists on one side and scientists & educators on the other, it was just a matter of time before I forged a career path that is a nexus of both lineages and became an advocate for biodiversity.

"Protecting flora and fauna and their habitats provides the context to my daily life."

I started my professional life as a research scientist in biochemistry working in laboratories at various institutions for over 2 decades. I was always interested in and intrigued by the natural world but it was only about 9 years ago when I enrolled in the natural areas stewardship program at the Morton Arboretum that I realized my calling in protecting other species through science and policy. Having earned the stewardship certificate after nearly 3 years of rigorous training, I embarked on my environmental journey by returning to university to earn credentials in law and policy, and contributing to some projects at environmental NGOs along the way. I currently work towards protecting wildlife and native plant species and also teach environmental science to undergraduates through use of new media and technology.


Natalia Maltseva

Dr. Maltseva completed her BSc at Novosibirsk State University and earned her PhD from the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk. She currently works at the University of Chicago / Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. LinkedIn

I was born in Akademgorodok by the banks of the Ob river in western Siberia and spent the first three decades of my life amid the boreal forests of the Russian Taiga. The Taiga is the largest biome on earth after oceans, of which the Russian part is the largest. The smell of the pine forests, the perfectly shaped crystalline snowflakes sparkling like jewels on treetops (the phrase “pure as driven snow” was probably coined here!), clean fresh air, clean water flowing through the rivers and pristine muskegs, listening to the birds, gathering wild mushrooms are all indelible memories of my early life. 

Travels to explore the Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal (the deepest freshwater lake in the world) further renewed my sense of wonder of the natural world. I am extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by the wealth of natural resources the region has to offer. Unfortunately, these resources are now fast degrading and dwindling primarily because of human activities. The permafrost in Siberia is rapidly melting releasing the methane that was trapped over geological time adding to the growing greenhouse gases and creating huge sinkholes. The ecosystems of the Taiga themselves are undergoing enormous changes since just the past two decades. 

As I walk through the woodlands and parks now in the western suburbs of Chicago, I am constantly reminded of the urgent need to protect our natural resources for future generations, through education and active participation in environmental restoration activities. Being an environmental steward is a responsibility I take very seriously and impress on others to do the same.


Magdalena Makowska-Grzyska

Dr. Makowska-Grzyska completed her Masters in Organic Technology at Silesian University of Technology and earned her PhD from Utah State University. She currently works at Afton Chemical Company in Richmond, Virginia. LinkedIn

Our relationship with nature has historically been one of imbalance and overuse rather than subsistence. Nearly every step in human history has unfortunately been accompanied by an increase in environmental degradation. I experienced this firsthand, growing up in Gliwice, a city located in the Upper Silesia in southern Poland. Silesia is the most industrialized and urbanized region in Poland, with almost 80% of its population living in cities. The region has an abundance of mineral deposits including coal, lignite, zinc, lead, and iron, which led to the development of coal mining, and iron and steel foundries, along with the expansion of infrastructure and advanced urbanization. Mining, coal-based power and heat generation, automotive industry, and chemical industry are the main sources of air pollution in Silesia which accounted for almost half of Poland’s greenhouse gas emissions in the nineties. Growing up in Gliwice, I was not always fully aware of how bad our environmental pollution was. However, one clear way the pollution manifested itself was in the Klodnica River, which flows through Gliwice. Klodnica’s water was highly polluted turning black and nearly opaque from silt and coal dust from the surrounding coalmines and public and industrial sewage. The river was basically an industrial waste site and my fellow chemistry students at the local university joked that the river contained all the elements of the periodic table.

Fortunately, since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, Silesia is on the way to a greener and modern economy. Thanks to environmental protection efforts, the emissions of air pollutants like particulate matter and sulfur dioxide have been cut significantly in Silesia’s large production plants since the nineties. The Klodnica River is also doing better with notably improved water clarity after most of its worst polluters, i.e. the coalmines, were liquidated. The European chub, a species of freshwater fish in the carp family, has recently been found in Klodnica. The lower parts of the river have been colonized by numerous flocks of cormorants. I hope that the introduction of new sewage treatment plants will help to further improve water quality and lead to the gradual rebirth of biological life in the river.

The improvements in the environmental health of Silesia were achieved thanks to a combination of new stricter laws that control industrial waste and emissions, and coherent local policies that deal with agriculture, transport, and trade. Public pressure due to increased awareness of the danger of pollution also played an important role. It is a great example of “think globally, act locally.” There are a number of ways in which we can start making positive changes in the environment. We can start by asking questions, staying informed, taking responsibility, and getting involved.

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