Astute Spruce

Photo: Elias Arnar

Brendan C. Ward founded Astute Spruce in 2019 to work with science-based organizations to shape a healthier world.

Brendan is passionate about bridging science with real-world applications. He combines a Master's of Science in Landscape Ecology with over a decade of experience developing software solutions.

He has led software teams to create groundbreaking solutions to data sharing and visualization needs. Brendan has helped empower decision makers and stakeholders by building software that leverages the best available scientific data with cutting-edge technology to increase positive impact. He has partnered with scientists to streamline their data processing to derive more value from less manual labor. He has collaborated with government agencies, conservation non-profits, and others to amplify the impact of their work.

Every step of the way, Brendan combines a passion for expanding the impact of organizations and individuals with better tools and data. He brings a strong attention to detail and a creative spark to meld innovation with high-quality results. He is a strong collaborator and actively engages partners throughout all stages of his work. Through his careful focus on maximizing impact, his projects are more effective and intuitive than many out-of-the-box solutions.

Owner & Lead Software Engineer

Astute Spruce, LLC  |  2019—presentCorvallis, OR

I work collaboratively with science-based organizations to develop highly-customized software solutions for real-world problems. I leverage my unique talents and background at the fusion point between science and software engineering to amplify the impact of these organizations, empower their stakeholders with higher-quality data through intuitive and compelling applications, and increase engagement within the science and conservation communities.

  • Develop highly-intuitive, highly-performant user-oriented applications using full-stack software engineering including - but not limited to - Python, modern Javascript, and Go.
  • Provide consulting and software architecture guidance.

Highlighted Projects

  • 2019-2021: Enhanced User Engagement with Conservation Blueprints in the Southeastern U.S. (funder: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Role: project manager and sole software engineer.
  • 2019-2020: West Coast Estuaries Explorer - Tidal Wetland Loss and Eelgrass (Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission). Role: project manager and sole software engineer.
  • 2019: Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization Tool - Phase II (funder: Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership). Role: project manager and sole software engineer.
  • 2019: New Zealand Department of Conservation - Budget Allocation Pilot Application (New Zealand Department of Conservation). Role: project manager and sole software engineer.

Chief Software Engineer

Conservation Biology Institute  |  2007—2019Corvallis, OR

I led CBI's software development team to create tools and platforms that empower the conservation community to share, visualize, interpret, and apply geospatial data.

  • Worked closely with scientists and clients to co-design highly effective, intuitive, and innovative data visualization and communication applications that allowed them to deliver high value information. Used full-stack software engineering across a broad range of applications and technologies to make these applications a reality.
  • Led Data Basin, a multi-million dollar, groundbreaking geospatial data sharing and collaboration platform used by over 28k registered users.
  • Wrote successful proposals and managed multi-disciplinary projects (won projects totalling over $500K; led projects totalling over $1.5M).
  • Recruited and supervised staff, managed team operations, and oversaw staff development. Contributed to CBI strategic direction and business development.

Highlighted Projects:

  • 2018-2019: Florida Climate Adaptation Explorer (funders: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). Role: project manager and sole software engineer.
  • 2019: Bat Acoustic Monitoring Visualization Tool (funder: U.S. Forest Service). Role: project manager and lead software engineer.
  • 2018-2019: Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization Tool (funder: Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership). Role: project manager and sole software engineer.
  • 2017-2019: Environmental Risk Screening Tool for Chinese Ministry of Ecology and the Environment - Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (funder: Paulson Institute). Role: project manager and lead software engineer.
  • 2017-2019: West Coast Estuaries Explorer (funder: U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission). Role: project manager and sole software engineer.
  • 2014-2018: South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Conservation Blueprint Simple Viewer (funder: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Role: project manager and lead software engineer.
  • 2016: California Water Planning and Information Exchange - Data Basin Pilot (funder: California Department of Water Resources). Role: project manager, lead software engineer, and co-wrote final report.
  • 2012-2014: Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network - Integrated Data Management Network (funders: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey). Role: co-led the "Toolshed" working group and co-wrote the "Toolshed" final report.
  • 2011-2012: Rapid Ecoregional Assessments for the Sonoran Desert and Colorado Plateau (funder: Bureau of Land Management). Role: data management lead responsible for preparation, standardization, and delivery of several hundred geospatial datasets; created fire and invasive species predictive models; co-wrote final reports.

Biological Scientist / GIS Specialist

U.S. Forest Service  |  2004—2007Missoula, MT

I led the historical fire regime mapping and modeling team within the LANDFIRE project, a highly-ambitious project to quantify current vegetation cover, potential vegetation, fire risk and behavior, and departure from historical conditions across the U.S.

  • Added value across the entire project by contributing major improvements to data acquisition, processing, and products; these improvements saved thousands of dollars in computing and labor costs and expanded the diversity and value of project products.
  • Directly applied software engineering skills to improve simulation model internals resulting in major decreases in processing time, and engineer new tools to leverage machine learning for classifying and mapping vegetation types using remotely sensed imagery at landscape scales.
  • Developed new methods for mapping invasive vegetation and potential fire impacts.

Master's of Science - Forest Ecology

University of Wisconsin - Madison  |  2004Madison, WI

Thesis: Landscape-level effects of the interaction between residential development and public forest management in northern Wisconsin, USA.

Bachelor's of Science - Environmental Science

Western Washington University  |  2002Bellingham, WA

Thesis: A simple rule-based simulation approach to modeling windthrow in forests of the western Cascade Mountains of Oregon.


Weller, T.J. and B.C. Ward. 2020. AMPlifying Bat Monitoring Across North America: an online portal shares acoustic data to advance bat conservation across the continent. The Wildlife Professional May/June 2020: 44-48.

Scheller, R.M., W.D. Spencer, H. Rustigian-Romsos, A.D. Syphard, B.C. Ward, and J.R. Strittholt. 2011. Using stochastic simulation to evaluate competing risks of wildfires and fuels management on an isolated forest carnivore. Landscape Ecology 26: 1491-1504.

Syphard, A.D., R.M. Scheller, B.C. Ward, W.D. Spencer, and J.R. Strittholt. 2011. Simulating landscape-scale effects of fuels treatments in the Sierra Nevada, California, USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire 20:364-383.

Scheller, R.M., E.J. Gustafson, B.R. Sturtevant, B.C. Ward, and D.J. Mladenoff. 2010. Increasing the research and management value of ecological models using modern software techniques. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8(5): 253-260.

Ward, B.C., D.J. Mladenoff, and R.M. Scheller. 2005. Simulating landscape-level effects of constraints to public forest regeneration harvests due to adjacent residential development in northern Wisconsin. Forest Science 51(6): 616-632.

Technical Reports:

Ward, B.C., M. Lundin, D. Harvey, J. Strittholt, G. Joseph, T. Comendant. 2016. California Water Planning Information Exchange (Water PIE) - Data Basin Pilot. Prepared for the California Department of Water Resources.

Multiple authors. 2014. Landscape Conservation Cooperative - Integrated Data Management Network - Toolshed. Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. More information.

Strittholt, J.R., S.A. Bryce, B.C. Ward, and D.M. Bachelet. 2012. Sonoran Desert Rapid Ecoregional Assessment Report. Prepared for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Denver, Colorado. Access report.

Bryce, S.A., J.R. Strittholt, B.C. Ward, and D.M. Bachelet. 2012. Colorado Plateau Rapid Ecoregional Assessment Report. Prepared for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Denver, Colorado. Access report.

Get in touch:

Astute Spruce, LLC
Brendan C. Ward
Owner | Lead software engineer
Phone: 541-250-9544
Oregon, USA