Vice President, Conservation Research
Chuck Knapp oversees Shedd's conservation research programs with the goal of saving wild animals and imperiled ecosystems. His programs support Shedd’s mission to protect the aquatic animal world and inspire the public to become environmental stewards who protect aquatic life for future generations. He also oversees the crew, scheduling and budgeting for Shedd’s research vessel, the R/V Coral Reef II.
For more than two decades, Knapp has advanced conservation initiatives in the United States and abroad. Using iguanas as model organisms, his research focuses on understanding the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on endangered taxa and designing conservation strategies to prevent further population declines and habitat degradation. His work with students, citizens, government officials and scientists led to the expansion of West Side National Park in the Bahamas, a considerable achievement in the region.
Knapp began working at Shedd as an 18-year-old volunteer, and three years later he was hired as the first tide pool aquarist in the Abbott Oceanarium. Later, as an aquarist in Shedd’s original galleries, he garnered extensive experience working with Caribbean and freshwater fish species while developing a lifelong passion for West Indian rock iguanas.
Knapp has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed journal publications and book chapters. He is co-chair of the IUCN Iguana Specialist Group, assessor of three species for the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species and a science advisor to the Bahamas National Trust. Knapp also teaches marine and island ecology of the Bahamas to college students enrolled in a Shedd-based program with the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA).
Knapp received his Ph.D. and M.S. in wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida and was a conservation research postdoctoral fellow with the Institute for Conservation Research at the San Diego Zoo.