BANR Staff

Robin Schoen

Kara Laney
Senior Program Officer

Camilla Yandoc Ables
Senior Program Officer

Jenna Briscoe
Research Associate

Sarah Kwon
Program Assistant

Staff Biographies

Robin Schoen is the Director of the Board Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR), a position she has held since 2005. As BANR Director, she works with experts (members) of the Board to identify important emerging issues deserving of greater exploration. Board meetings typically provide a platform for further inquiry and discussion of such issues with members of the food, agriculture, and natural resources enterprise. Robin is the point person for BANR program development and represents the Board to sponsors and prospective sponsors of BANR activities. She also oversees the work of the Board staff on a broad portfolio of activities. In recent years BANR’s portfolio of work has been wide-ranging and has included studies and workshops on brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone area, genetically engineered crops, citrus greening, nutrient requirements of dairy cattle, surveillance of occupational injuries and illnesses, laboratory safety, the veterinary workforce, herbicide-resistant weeds, the management of wild horses and burros in the West, and the future of animal agriculture. Robin joined BANR from the Academies Board on Life Sciences, where she managed consensus studies related to plant genomics, stems cells, invasive species, and the responsible conduct of science. In her 25+ year career at the Academies she has been involved in a diversity of studies and activities, such as helping the State of Ohio build a biotechnology industry in the state to directing a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant that sent US experts and their equipment to Mexico and South America to teach advanced molecular biology courses to young investigators. A native Washingtonian, Robin received a B.S. in biology and chemistry from Frostburg State College, Maryland, and an M.A. in Science and Technology Policy from George Washington University. Robin enjoys the mountains of western Maryland, gardening, and music.

Kara Laney is Senior Program Officer and joined the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources in June 2008. She recently completed directing studies that produced the reports Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects and Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology. During her time at the National Academies, Kara has directed consensus studies on the use of science in the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, the relationship between genetically engineered crops and U.S. farm sustainability, and the economic and environmental effects of increased biofuel production in the United States. Prior to joining the National Academies in 2008, Kara served as a policy associate on agricultural trade issues for the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council and as a program coordinator for the International Cooperation and Development branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She received a master’s degree in international agriculture and rural development from Cornell University and an undergraduate degree in international relations from Brown University. She enjoys her bike commute to work and playing ultimate frisbee whenever possible.

Camilla Yandoc Ables is a Senior Program Officer and joined the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources in March 2008. A native of the Philippines, she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños in 1991 and later on worked as a researcher at the International Rice Research Institute. She attended the University of Florida from 1996-2001 and received a PhD in Plant Pathology. Prior to working at the Academies, Camilla worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Purdue University and at the US Horticultural Research Laboratory of the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service in Fort Pierce, FL. She has performed research in the areas of weed biological control (discovery and development of bioherbicides), plant disease control, and methyl bromide alternatives. She is a member of the American Phytopathological Society and the Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture. Camilla has served as study director or as co-study director for the following projects: Letter Report to the Florida Department of Citrus on the Review of Research Proposals on Citrus Greening (2008), Strategic Planning for the Florida Citrus Industry: Addressing Citrus Greening Disease (2010), An Evaluation of the Food Safety Requirements of the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program (2010), The Potential Consequences of Public Release of Food Safety and Inspection Service Establishment-Specific Data (2011) and Feasibility of Using Mycoherbicides for Controlling Illicit Drug Crops (2011).

Jenna Briscoe is a Research Associate and joined the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources in April 2014. She has worked on various past reports including Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects, Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology, Revisiting Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area, and A Review of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. Jenna is currently working with many committees including the Committee on Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research, the Committee on A Review of the Citrus Greening Research and Development Efforts, and the Committee on Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University. Jenna graduated Cum Laude from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2013 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Sociology. Previously, she worked at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science - Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, where she conducted water quality testing on pre-restored and restored streams. In her spare time, Jenna enjoys baking, traveling, binge watching TV shows, and going to museums and concerts.

Sarah Kwon is a Program Assistant with the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources and joined in July 2019. Sarah graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a degree in Biology with a strong interest in environmental and plant biology. During her studies, she conducted research examining the structure of Acalypha setosa (Cuban Copperleaf) and investigated the impacts of street art murals on the Urban Heat Island Effect. During her free time, she loves to run, watch movies and musicals, sing, cook, and explore different restaurants.