Dr. John All – Executive Director

Dr. John All is a geoscientist whose life has been devoted to exploration around the world as he examines how climate change and resource management interact to impact communities and the biosphere in mountainous regions.  He is currently a Research Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at Western Washington University, as well as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the American Climber Science Program.

Dr. All is interested in expanding the understanding of climate change impacts on the biosphere and identifying ways in which resource management can inform climate change adaptation more broadly.  He began his career with a focus on exploring the Colorado River Delta and Sierra Madre of northern Mexico as part of his PhD research.  He studied similar environmental issues in southern Africa in the Okavango Delta and helped map the greater Chobe River system.  Although Dr. All found these remote locations compelling, his heart has always been in the mountains leading him to new work in the Himalaya, Andes, and other mountain regions. Dr. All has carried out research on five continents from deep caves to tropical rain forest, deserts and the world’s highest mountains including Mt. Everest and numerous other noteworthy peaks across the world. He uses his JD to examine policy responses and inform local conservation decision-making.

Dr. All has a paraglider pilot’s license, is a certified SCUBA rescue diver, and spent several years with search and rescue teams.  He has been part of several rugby championship teams, was a semi-pro volleyball player in graduate school, and won two National Championship medals in American Decathlon in high school.  He is a snowboarder, skier, mountain biker, long distance sea kayaker, and caver who has mapped caves all over the world.  He has traveled to over fifty countries and lived for more than a month in 16 of them.  Dr. All is a Lifetime Fellow of the Explorers Club in New York City, a member of the IUCN Mountain Protected Areas Network, a Committee Member for Geology and Geography with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for the past 11 years, on the American Alpine Club’s Conservation Committee. He has co-lead ACSP expeditions to Peru (2012-2013), Costa Rica and Nepal (2014).

Dr. Rebecca Cole – Research Director

Dr. Rebecca Cole is the director of the Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica (Organization for Tropical Studies) and is also research faculty at University of Hawaii-Manoa. Rebecca has extensive experience working in remote areas of Central and South America where her research examines ways to restore degraded ecosystems and develop sustainable land management strategies. Rebecca grew up exploring in the mountain rainforests near her home town on Costa Rica's southern frontier and later extended those explorations to the mountains of the American west and the Andes of South America. She has competed in a wide variety of sports and holds several US Collegiate National Championship titles in Nordic Skiing. She earned her PhD at the University of California at Santa Cruz testing ways to restore rainforest to degraded lands in Costa Rica and traveling to remote indigenous villages to understand how reforestation could improve local livelihoods. 

Rebecca’s interest in alpine mountaineering and work in remote environments led her to become one of the founders of the American Climber Science Program. Since 2011, she has been the research director and co-leader of expeditions to the Peruvian Andes to climb mountains and collect environmental data. In 2014, Rebecca organized an expedition (Costa Rica C2C) crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast of Central America over the Talamanca mountain range.  This was the first research expedition to traverse this extremely dense and rugged section of the Talamanca and provided some of the first data on the region. In 2014, Rebecca led an ambitious research campaign to gather data from the canopies of some of the tallest tropical trees on the planet in the remote backcountry of Corcovado National Park. She currently has research on the Island of Hawaii studying ways to restore endangered ecosystems on the slopes of Mauna Loa. In October 2016, Rebecca took on the directorship of Las Cruces Biological Station and the Wilson Botanical Garden in Costa Rica. She will continue to be affiliated with University of Hawaii at Manoa and function as a volunteer researcher and board member of the ACSP.

Dr. Carl Schmitt – Science Advisory Committee Chair

Dr. Carl Schmitt is a Project Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  At NCAR, Carl’s work centers on the properties of ice cloud and snow particles.  The results of his research are used to improve weather forecasting and climate models and understand factors causing the rapid retreat of mountain glaciers.  His research has taken him on extended campaigns to the North Slope of Alaska, the Svalbard Islands, mountain tops in Peru and Bolivia, and on aircraft research flights globally. Carl is leading the ‘black carbon’ initiative for the ACSP, a research project that is drawing international interest.

Carl has been an athlete his entire life, competing in Nordic skiing, trail running, biathlon, duathlon, and mountain biking events. Carl holds several US Collegiate National Championship medals, as well as Olympic trials and World Championship team trials appearances to his credit.  As Carl’s scientific career has progressed, he has chosen to use his athletic skills to conduct scientific research in remote and extreme environments. His interest in mountain research and making a significant contribution to communities affected by climate change and environmental degradation led him to become one of the founders of the ACSP.

Ellen Lapham – Chairperson of the Board of Directors

Ellen has been on ice, rock and glaciers since her first climb in Colorado in the 70’s. She attempted to be the first American woman to climb Everest’s north side during two expeditions, skied across Ellesmere Island, and has done solo exploration of Alaska's Brooks Range. She describes herself as a high tech entrepreneur who was an early disrupter in the computer industry in Silicon Valley. Ellen is a co-founder of ACSP and co-leader of ACSP expeditions to Peru from 2011-2014.  She has served on many boards, including the American Alpine Club. In her spare time, Ellen ice climbs, mountain bikes, scuba divers, solo ski mountaineers in the Sierra Nevada, and farms in California. She has recently become the oldest person to climb two classic waterfall ice routes: Telluride’s Bridal Veil Falls (2014) and Ames Ice Hose (2015).


James Holmes – Treasurer

James works professionally in corporate finance and is pleased to serve as the Treasurer of the American Climber Science Program. James likes to help advance scientific research and environmental conservation through climbing. He lives in New York City, trains on rock and ice around the Northeast U.S., and travels around the world to climb. James has joined each of the ACSP Cordillera Blanca expeditions since 2012 and has summited more than five peaks over 5,000m.

Dr. Alex C. Stella- Expedition Doctor

Dr. Alex C. Stella, MD is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician with a career interest of practicing medicine in isolated and austere environments. His academic training began with a B.S. in Biology from James Madison University. After a few years of travel, Dr. Stella continued his education at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, followed by residency training in emergency medicine at the University of Rochester. Dr. Stella currently works with APEX Emergency Physicians at St. Anthony Hospital in Denver, Colorado, a nationally recognized Level 1 Trauma Center at the base of the Colorado Rockies.

Dr. Stella has a passion for exploration and believes in the pursuit of confronting challenges and embracing perseverance. He has travelled throughout the world to 20 countries, and has spent time ski mountaineering and climbing in North and South America, the Alps, and the Indian Himalayas. Having grown up swimming, he is equally comfortable in the water, and loves to snorkel in places like Australia and the British Virgin Islands. Combining his passion for exploration with medicine, Dr. Stella has been a member of the National Ski Patrol for the last 15 years, and spent 2003 in South America where he completed an international ski patrol certification from Las Leñas, Argentina. Prior to matriculating medical school he also worked installing ski lifts for POMA, and volunteered in isolated medical clinics in Ghana, West Africa. Dr. Stella has also published medical research articles including a paper on 30 years of data on caving injuries in the US. In 2011 Dr. Stella joined the Climber Science Program as their Medical Advisor, and co-lead expeditions to Peru as well as helped ACSP with expedition preparation to Nepal.


.Dr. William Straka – Field GIS Director 

Dr. William Straka has climbed and hiked and climbed on all 7 continents, with ascents of Denali in Alaska, the Bugaboos and Canadian Rockies in Canada, the Cascades, Sierra, Yosemite, Tetons, Colorado Rockies, and Mexican Volcanoes in North America; French, Swiss, and Italian Alps in Europe; Mt Vinson (Antarctica); Kilimanjaro (Africa); several notable routes in Australia; and several routes in the Cordillera Blanca in South America. After 20 years in academia as an astrophysicist and as a consultant on energy conservation and alternative energy sources, he moved to the aerospace industry for 18 years, where he worked on the modernizing of the Navstar Global Positioning System Ground and Space segments among other projects as project lead. Since retirement, Dr. Straka has been a consultant in development of GPS receivers and field applications for environmental studies. He has participated in development of Leave No Trace programs for youth groups such as Boy Scouts with the Leave No Trace national organization. He is a National Member of The Explorers Club and has been certified as Climbing Director for Boy Scouts of America since 2001. Dr. Straka has been field team leader and GIS director for the ACSP expeditions to the Cordillera Blanca section of the Andes in 2011 through 2014.


Clinton Lewis – Visual Director

Clinton is the staff photographer for WKU in Bowling Green, Ky., and a veteran of the 2011 and 2013 Peru Expeditions. In addition to being an award-winning photographer, he is an avid climber, runner, kayaker & mountain biker, spending quite a bit of time outdoors in the Kentucky and Tennessee region. He is married with three children and serves as Assistant Scoutmaster for his sons' Boy Scout troop. Clinton's other travels have taken him to Germany, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, China and nearly 40 US states.


Steve Byrne- Expedition Photographer

Steve is a adventure sports and travel photographer devoted to connecting people to nature through photography.  At 21 during a summer in college, Steve moved to Yosemite Valley, where he learned to climb and devote himself to photography.  From Yosemite, Steve branched out, climbing the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada, photographing his experiences, and growing ever more entranced in the beauty of the Sierra.  

Based out of San Francisco, Steve runs his own photography and print business mixing environmental documentary work with commercial projects, mainly within the outdoor industry.  Steve has climbed and photographed extensively throughout the continental US, Alaska, Peru, Patagonia and the central Andes.  His clients have included National Geographic, KQED Media, Shutterfly, Camelbak and the SF Chronicle among others.   Additionally, Steve teaches photography annually for National Geographic Student Expeditions.   

Steve joined the ACSP in 2014 in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru, photographing and filming black carbon research on tropical glaciers.  In addition to being drawn to the beauty and forms of the mountains, over the past few years, Steve has been growing ever more interested in the role that wilderness and alpine regions play in the daily lives of lowland populations.  In 2015 Steve looks forward to working with the ACSP in Peru and beyond, telling the story of ACSP research expeditions and also creating visual portraits of glacially fed watersheds and communities dependent upon them. Check out Steve's work at stevebyrnephotography.com or follow him on Instagram @stevebyrnephoto