2017 Summit: Drone Technology and Conservation

Saturday, March 11, 9am, Weinmann Hall, Room TBD

Unmanned Aerial Systems (colloquially called drones) are becoming increasingly popular for private video and camera footage, and their use now extends to wildlife management and research. While this technology provides a unique view for research and conservation, drone usage in the U.S. is tied up in legal uncertainty regarding privacy rights and Federal Aviation Administration rules. Experts will examine the legal limits of drone use, and show how they have implemented drones into wildlife management.

Rachel Kramer, Senior Program Officer, Wildlife Conservation & TRAFFIC, World Wildlife Fund

kramerRachel Kramer is a wildlife trade monitoring and conservation technology expert at the World Wildlife Fund, with 10 years’ experience in community based conservation, wildlife trade monitoring and policy. As Senior Program Officer for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network that is a strategic alliance of WWF and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Rachel oversees projects in Africa and Asia and manages wildlife trade assessments that support important policy and enforcement actions. In her work with WWF’s Wildlife Crime Technology Project, Rachel teamed up with United for Wildlife to found WILDLABS.NET: the conservation technology network. This open online community connects over 1,000 technology experts to conservationists to help them crowd-source technical advice and co-engineer tools that save wildlife. Rachel served three years in the Peace Corps in Madagascar where she led community-based conservation projects until her evacuation in the coup of 2009. She has an MESc from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Rachel is committed to advancing sustainable resource use for future generations.


Brandon Brown, J.D., General Counsel, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

Brandon Brown is a 1998 graduate of Louisiana State University School of Law.  He opened The Brown Law Firm in Baton Rouge in 1999 and was engaged in civil litigation and criminal defense matters until 2010.  From 2010 until January 2017, he was the General Counsel for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, supervising 18 lawyers and support staff in the areas of construction litigation, expropriation of property, legislative affairs and employment disputes.  He is now a partner in the Baton Rouge law firm of Carleton, Loraso and Hebert specializing in civil litigation.

Brandon was born and raised in Baton Rouge.  He is the father of two wonderful young ladies, a competent cook and fan of live music and salt water fishing.


Jeffrey Kerby, PhD Dartmouth PostDoc, National Geographic Grantee

dr jeff kerby.jpgJeffrey Kerby is an ecologist and photographer at Dartmouth’s Neukom Institute.  As technical director of ConservationDrones.org, Jeff engages with conservation ecologists on the ground to plan research and build UAV capacity, particularly in developing countries.  Some of his recent projects include rainforest mapping in Suriname with Conservation International, chimpanzee nest censusing in Tanzania with the Jane Goodall Institute, and quantifying tundra change in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic.  Currently his focus is on expanding environmental UAV monitoring in rapidly changing ecosystems in the Arctic.  Jeff received his PhD in climate change ecology from Penn State University in 2015.

Rock Palermo (Moderator), Attorney at Law

mr-rock-palermo-0190aRock graduated from LSU Law School in 1992 and from LSU with a bachelor’s degree in 1987. While at LSU Law School he was selected to the Moot Court Board. He is a partner in the firm of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson in Lake Charles. The firm handles environmental litigation, oil and gas litigation, serious personal injury and maritime law claims and commercial litigation. He is a member of the Judge Albert Tate American Inn of Court, LSU Law Center Board of Trustees and Chancellor’s Council, American Board of Trial Advocates and the Louisiana Association for Justice. Rock was named to each edition of the Louisiana Super Lawyers since 2007 and to each edition of The Best Lawyers in America since 2009. He is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell. He is a certified mediator, FAA licensed Airline Transport Pilot with airplane, jet and helicopter ratings.  Rock is a PADI master scuba instructor. He is a member of the Civil Air Patrol, the United States Air Force Auxiliary, and holds the rank of Colonel.  In addition, he serves on the Board of the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program and serves on the Lake Charles Regional Airport Authority. He and his wife, Kim, have three children.