Ben Novak graduated from Montana State University studying Ecology and Evolution (2005). Novak specialized in paleontology, genetics, ecology and ornithology. Novak was trained in paleogenomics laboratory protocols at the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre under Dr. Hendrik Poinar, exploring DNA extraction and sequencing of Mastodon fossils (2010-2012). It was at this laboratory that Ben began his first studies of passenger pigeon genomics. With this experience he has taken on the challenge of leading The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback which began in 2012. In 2013 he joined the UCSC Paleogenomics Laboratory, under Dr. Beth Shapiro, to initiate genome studies for passenger pigeon de-extinction. Read More
Passenger pigeons and the conservation ecology of de-extinction have been his life-long passion. In conjunction with his work for Revive & Restore, Ben is pursuing a Master’s degree at UCSC. His thesis dissertation will serve as an “ecological risk assessment” for the reintroduction of passenger pigeons to the eastern United States/Canadian forests. Research for this body of work will provide the foundation for our understanding of the genomics of de-extinction, the comprehensive design plan for the breeding and repopulation of de-extinct passenger pigeons, and the regulations and policies pertaining to de-extinction. Ben is leading The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback with the goal of setting the field standards for de-extinction protocols and considerations.
Ben is also involved in public communications & education outreach for Revive & Restore, as well as lending his expertise to related projects.