Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Research Postgraduate



+44 (0)20 7594 2328a.catalano16




2.9MunroSilwood Park





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I am a PhD student researching how conservation professionals learn from failure. In particular, I am interested in the dynamics of confronting and managing failure from the perspective of individuals, teams, and organizations. I study how cognitive biases and past experiences affect an individual's ability to discuss failure. I also research how psychological safety and other team learning behaviors influence group response to failure. I am interested in examining how conservation organizations enable or discourage learning from failure both internally and across conservation as a discipline, and what structural barriers exist that impede this learning. I study other disciplines with longer histories of managing failure such as business, aviation, and medicine to identify what, if any, systems and mindsets might be adopted to promote a 'safe-fail' culture in conservation. My work involves both quantitative and qualitative techniques to understand these issues.

Prior to commencing my PhD, I completed my undergraduate degree in Environmental Geology at Bryn Mawr College and a Master's of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. I have also served as a Commander in the United States Navy for the past 19 years, specializing in logistics. Additionally, I worked at Bain & Co. London as a strategic management consultant, and most recently served as the Community Liaison Officer reporting directly to the US Ambassador at the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.



Lyons-White J, Pollard E, Catalano A, et al., 2020, Rethinking zero deforestation beyond 2020 to more equitably and effectively conserve tropical forests, One Earth, ISSN:2590-3322

Catalano AS, Lyons-White J, Mills MM, et al., 2019, Learning from published project failures in conservation, Biological Conservation, Vol:238, ISSN:0006-3207, Pages:1-10

Catalano AS, Redford K, Margoluis R, et al., 2018, Black swans, cognition and the power of learning from failure, Conservation Biology, Vol:32, ISSN:0888-8892, Pages:584-596

Catalano AS, Knight AT, 2016, Does procrastination promote failure in conservation of extremely small populations? A response to Meek, Biological Conservation, Vol:194, ISSN:0006-3207, Pages:217-217

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