Skip to main content


Section Chair: Dr. Luben Dimov, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Alabama A&M University

Luben Dimov is an Associate Professor at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) where he teaches nine courses in the areas of forest ecology, silviculture, restoration, and management. His research focuses on forest vegetation dynamics following natural and anthropogenic disturbances, restoration of native species, and methods for control of non-native invasive species.

He received his undergraduate training and MSc degree in Forestry from the University of Forestry in Bulgaria and PhD in Renewable Natural Resources from Louisiana State University. He has been a member of the ESA since 2004. As part of his efforts to increase the diversity in the Society, he is serving as the Faculty Adviser to the SEEDS Student Chapter at AAMU, he mentors SEEDS students during the ESA meetings, and participates in evaluation of  SEEDS applications for the semi-annual trips. He served the ESA’s Applied Ecology Section as Secretary from 2010 to 2012, Vice-Chair from 2012 to 2017, and as Chair since late 2017.


Section Vice-Chair: Dr. Ajay Sharma, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida

Ajay Sharma is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida (UF) School of Forest Resources and Conservation.  He teaches courses for Natural Resource Conservation (NRC) degree program at the UF Milton Campus, and his research program is in the field of applied forest ecology. Previously, Ajay worked as Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Management at Lincoln University for over 2 years. Prior to obtaining his Ph.D. at the University of Florida, Ajay worked in India with the Government of Delhi Department of Forests and Wildlife, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, and Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine.​Over the past seventeen years, he and his team have conducted forestry and ecological research in diverse forest ecosystems of India and the United States. Most of his current research has focused on restoration and management of southern pine ecosystems, primarily evaluating even- and uneven-aged silvicultural systems in longleaf pine -slash pine ecosystems.


Section Secretary: Dr. Zakiya Leggett, College of Natural Resources, North Carolina State University

Zakiya Leggett is an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University in the College of Natural Resources. She currently teaches Introduction to Environmental Science and Forest Soils and serves as the campus director for the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDCSP). In addition to these duties, Dr. Leggett conducts research related to forest and soil ecology specifically evaluating the effects of intensive forest management. Her research has focused primarily on enhancing the productivity and sustainability of loblolly pine. Before teaching at NCSU, she worked for 10 years as a sustainability scientist with Weyerhaeuser Company, which is a forest products company. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Leggett earned a B.S from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL. After completing a Masters degree from Duke University, she earned a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. Dr. Leggett resides in Raleigh with her husband and two daughters and enjoys eating all types of vegetarian foods and traveling.


Immediate Past Chair: Dr. Gillian Bowser, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Ethnic Studies Department, Colorado State University

Dr. Gillian Bowser is a native of Brooklyn, New York and she started her career as an art major attending LaGuardia High School of the Arts where she earned a degree in fine artsphoto[1].  Her academic career was in biology with an emphasis on wildlife and population genetics with a minor in fine arts.  Dr. Bowser’s career represents the nexus between art and science.  She went on to become a wildlife biologist at National Park Service at several different national parks including Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Joshua Tree and Wrangel St. Elias National Parks.  Dr. Bowser is currently a research scientist at Colorado State University where her research is focused on biodiversity, sustainability and women scholarship and she currently leads two research coordination networks (RCN) funded by National Science Foundation looking at engaging minority students and faculty in the sciences.

Past Chair and Emertius: Dr. Harold (Hal) Balbach, US Army Corps of Engineers (retired)

Harold Balbach is an Emeritus Research Biologist with the Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Champaign, IL. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana, IL. He retired from the Corps of Engineers following 42 years of service in July, 2014, but has continued as a volunteer on a part time basis.

His research emphasized environmental impact analysis, natural resource demand modeling, and many aspects of military installation land management, focusing most recently on endangered species and climate change concerns. He most recently contributed to understanding of managing invasive plant species, and the management of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker, the Gopher Tortoise, and other southeastern species of importance to military installation management.

Dr. Balbach has authored or co-authored more than 200 technical reports, refereed journal articles, book chapters, environmental impact assessments and statements, and is author or co-author of 6 textbooks. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, a Certified Senior Ecologist, and a Certified Professional Agronomist.