Slaght_RiverI received an undergraduate degree in Russian Language from Drew University (Madison, NJ, USA) in 1998, then served in the United States Peace Corps in Primorye, Russia between 1999-2002, where I lived in the villages of Lazo and Ternei teaching English and Environmental Education. I received a Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology (2005) and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Conservation (2011) from the University of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN, USA) studying birds in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains in eastern Russia. I am one of the world’s foremost experts on Blakiston’s fish owl.

Since 2011, I have worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), where I am the Russia and Northeast Asia Coordinator. I seek to unify WCS conservation objectives in northeast Asia ranging from Manchuria in China north to the Russian Arctic. I have worked on research projects involving owls, tigers, leopards, bear, and deer (red deer, roe deer, and musk deer). I also oversee grants for the Russia Program, and help train the next generation of Russian conservationists.

In 2016 I started expanding my duties to include Asia-wide bird conservation, work that takes me from Alaska (USA) and Chukotka (Russia) in the north to Myanmar and Cambodia in the south. I am the WCS representative to the East Asia-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), Arctic Council’s Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI), and Flyways Working Group of the Convention on the conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). I work across the East Asian-Australasian Flyway to coordinate conservation of key waterbird species.

Since 2012 I have also acted as the English-language Editor of the Far Eastern Journal of Ornithology.

I am under contract with Farrar, Straus, and Giroux to write a book about my adventures studying Blakiston’s fish owls, and I author a regular guest blog for Scientific American about my experiences in Russia titled “East of Siberia.” My nature writings and scientific research have been featured on BBC World Service, the New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, and Audubon Magazine, among others. My 2016 translation of Vladimir Arsenyev’s 1921 travel adventure classic “Across the Ussuri Kray” was favorably reviewed by The New Yorker, Times Literary Supplement, and Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.

I give compelling, photo-filled presentations about Amur tigers, Blakiston’s fish owls, and the uniqueness of the Russian Far East. These talks that can be tailored to scientific or public audiences, and for adults or children. For more information or to book me as a speaker, please contact me directly at jslaght@wcs.org.


3 thoughts on “About

  1. Really into “Winter Ecology of the Amur Tiger” now. What an amazingly educational book!! I’m practicing their remarkable methods by tracking Bobcats, Javelina, Coyotes and Rabbits looking for the nuances they describe. BTW, I took a quiz by WCS and my personality came out as AMUR TIGER!! I guess that’s because when I read about them, I try to think like one. Awesome!!


      • I certainly will leave a great review on Amazon but I’m reading slowly and taking notes so it will be about a week to form a comprehensive statement. I have a question about the track measurements. We’re fortunate to have snow now, but I normally track in sandy soil. The rule I follow is to measure from inside the bend of the track imprint, rather than from the outside of the bend. Did Yudokov and Nikolaev imply this with the photo in the photo of pad measurement? I’ve seen their photos of tracks in snow, but not with a ruler designating how the track was measured, or taking degradation due to melting from residual heat into account. Just curious, as a slightly melted female track might look like a male? Here, this is critical to differentiate between Bobcat and Mountain Lion – a big difference. Perhaps Ms. Nikolaev would know? “Winter Ecology of the Amur Tiger” is so good that it vastly expands my curiosity!


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