Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center

Compton Fellowship

 

Compton Fellowships in Environment and Sustainable Development

The Compton Fellowship Program in Environment and Sustainable Development is designed to contribute to the capacity of developing countries to make informed policy and resource management decisions based on principles of sustainable development and sound science and to promote integration of environment, peace and population issues in graduate level study and research. The fellowship program aims to secure long-term habitat and ecosystem protection and to change the relationship between people and the natural environment in order to promote sustainable and just balance between meeting present human needs and conserving natural systems for future generations. Compton Fellowships are available to doctoral and masters students from tropical countries who intend to return to their country or region of origin on completion of their graduate studies.

Compton Fellowships are no longer available to graduate students enrolled in programs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Compton Fellows with the International Center for Tropical Ecology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis

2003 Compton Fellows

Okong'o Akura (Kenya)

Karina Boege (Mexico)

Cintia Cornelius (Chile)

Alejandro Masis (Costa Rica)

Mercedes Rouges (Argentina)

Alberto Vicentini (Brazil)

Cynthia Watson (Guyana)

2002 Compton Fellows

Lucia Lohmann (Brazil)

Lucio Malizia (Argentina)

Homero Vargas(Ecuador)

2001 Compton Fellows

Ivan Jimènez (Colombia)

Grace Servat (Peru)

Tibisay Escalona (Venezuela)

Rosemary Makona (Zambia)

Miriam Ramos-Escobedo (Mexico)

1999 Compton Fellows

Katheryne Aldas Saltos (Ecuador)

Ivan Jimenez (Colombia)

Grace Servat (Peru)

Lucio Malizia (Argentina)

Sandra Arango (Colombia)

1998 Compton Fellows

Tibisay Escalona (Venezuela)

Juan Fernandez (Colombia)

Silvio Marchini (Brazil)

Carolina Valdespino (Mexico)

1997 Compton Fellows

Guillermo Paz y Mino (Ecuador)

Luis Miguel Renjifo (Colombia)

Diego Perez-Salicrup (Mexico)

Gerardo Aymard (Venezuela)

1996 Compton Fellows

Guillermo Paz y Mino (Ecuador)

Gilberto Barrantes (Costa Rica)

Guillermo Paz y Mino

Guillermo Paz y Mino, came to UM-St. Louis from Ecuador in 1992 to pursue an advanced degree and the academic qualifications that would enhance his effectiveness as a leader in conservation issues affecting his country and the region. The Compton Fellowship allowed Guillermo to pursue his dissertation studies in animal behavior and complete the Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation. Prior to joining our program, he played a key role in developing environmental policy in Ecuador as Vice-Minister for the Environment. In that position, he was responsible for the coordination, control, development, and regulation of environmental projects in the energy sector (oil, mines, and electricity industries). Guillermo undertook an internship with the Environment Division of the World Bank. The goal of this project was to co-ordinate the Bank’s efforts with NGOs to set priorities for funding through the Global Environment Facility. Guillermo completed his Ph.D. and currently holds an academic position at the University of Kansas.

Gilberto Barrantes

Gilbert Barrantes, from Costa Rica, comes from a very modest background (a small family farm in the mountains of Costa Rica. Before coming to UM-St. Louis, Gilbert was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), Central America’s leading academic institution. Gilbert has strong ties with Costa Rica’s National Museum as well as the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) which has its tropical base in San Jose, Costa Rica. In summer 1996, he completed a conservation research internship at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution under the direction of Dr. Gary Graves, Curator of Birds. The internship provided Gilbert with the opportunity to establish a firm relationship with one of the premier conservation and research institutions in the world. Gilbert’s Ph.D. dissertation research focused on the black and yellow silky flycatcher, a bird endemic to Costa Rica, that is under threat because of its narrow habitat range and diet. Using molecular tools, together with in-depth field studies, he developed a population model applicable to species with limited distributions and restricted habitats. Following completion of his doctoral studies in 2000, Gilbert returned to Costa Rica to resume his position at the University of Costa Rica where he will contribute to the evolution, ecology and conservation program. He will continue to study the biogeography, ecology and conservation of Costa Rica's endemic birds.

Luis Miguel Renjifo

Luis Miguel Renjifo, from Colombia, conducted his Ph.D. dissertation research in the Central Andes of Colombia investigating the impact of different economic activities on the conservation of biodiversity in montane forests. He showed that forest patches surrounded by tree plantations maintain greater diversity of forest birds than do forests surrounded by cattle pastures. Cattle production has been the predominant land use in the area over the past 50 years. His results will impact land-use and forest policy in one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Luis Miguel has had a long history of leading conservation efforts in his country. Following his graduation from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia, he joined the Fundacion Herencia Verde, a Cali-based NGO, as a research biologist and was appointed a research fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society. In addition, he is the coordinator of the Threatened Species Committee for the National (Colombia) Strategy for Bird Conservation and former chief of the Research Division of the Environmental Department of Colombia’s capital district. Luis Miguel completed an internship with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington D.C. developing conservation priorities for the Hispanic South American program. He completed his doctorate in December 1999 and is now Director of Conservation Biology for the Humboldt Institute in Colombia, which establishes the national agenda for biodiversity and conservation research in this biological diverse country. He works closely with the Ministry of Environment and other governmental agencies in implementing conservation initiatives and has received significant funding through the Global Environment Facility from the World Bank. He continues to work with Fundacion Herencia Verde, the second largest conservation NGO in the country and, with his strong international connections, is having a significant impact on conservation policies in his native country.

Diego Perez-Salicrup

Diego Perez-Salicrup, from Mexico, was attracted to the graduate program at UM-St. Louis because of its close association with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the ICTE’s emphasis on conservation biology and sustainable development. As an undergraduate, Diego conducted his honors thesis integrating economics and ethnobotany. His thesis surveyed human use of medicinal plants and analyzed the economic and sociological factors, which influenced whether people were aware of indigenous knowledge. For his doctoral research, Diego investigated the impact of tropical lianas on sustainable forestry in Bolivia. A number of tropical forestry projects have been hampered by vigorous liana growth following selective logging and therefore Diego’s study has significant relevance to forestry management practices. Diego completed his Ph.D. in December 1999 and he is now a post-doctoral fellow with Harvard Forest, Harvard University conducting field research on natural forest management in Mexico. He has interacted with the Mexican NGO, EcoSur and has consulted on projects based in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

Gerardo Aymard

Gerardo Aymard from Venezuela received a Compton Fellowship during the final stages of his graduate training in tropical biology and conservation. Prior to entering the tropical conservation program at UM-St. Louis, Gerardo studied forestry at the Universidad de Los Andes in Caracas, Venezuela. As part of his graduate work, Gerardo studied the structure and composition of plant communities in rain forest along the interfluvial zone of the Rio Negro and Rio Orinoco in southwestern Venezuela. Gerardo’s expertise in biodiversity studies of plants in the Venezuelan Amazon led to an internship with the Smithsonian’s Man and the Biosphere Biodiversity Program. During this special training period, Gerardo and Smithsonian colleagues developed and established protocols for biodiversity research and completed inventories for critical sites in Bolivia. Gerardo has returned to Venezuela and is presently Professor of Botany at the Universidad Nacional de los Llanos Ezequiel Zamora (UNELLEZ) and Director of the University's herbarium. He continues to collaborate with scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the International Center for Tropical Ecology.

Tibisay Escalona

Tibisay Escalona is from Venezuela who joined our program having completed a master’s in conservation biology at the University of Kent at Canterbury, United Kingdom. Tibisay completed the Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation with an internship with Dr. Siegal, Southeastern Louisiana University on the endangered freshwater turtle, Graptemys flavimaculata. For her Ph.D. dissertation research, she is working on the impact of human interference on nest selection and reproductive success in the freshwater turtle, Podocnemis unifilis. This study will result in both theoretical contributions to turtle biology and practical applications for their conservation. A component of Tibisay’s dissertation is the development of a management plan for this threatened species. Tibisay has worked closely with indigenous communities along the Caura and Nichare Rivers in the Venezuelan Amazon, the site of her fieldwork. She is working with them to develop a sustainable management plan that will ensure the turtle's long term conservation but also meet the needs of the local people. Her fieldwork is supported by Wildlife Conservation Society, Saint Louis Zoo, Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo and the Sustainable Aquatic Resources Center.

Juan Fernandez

Juan Fernandez is from Colombia who for his Ph.D. dissertation research investigated the population genetics of the Colombian oak (Quercus humboldtii) and effects of forest fragmentation on gene flow. Quercus is an important timber species that only exists in isolated populations in the highly threatened Andes of Colombia. Juan’s dissertation research provided important data on the genetic consequences of forest fragmentation and has proved instrumental in the development of management plans for conservation and sustainable use of oaks in Colombia. Prior to coming to the ICTE and UM-St. Louis, Juan was a database manager at the Conservation Data Center in Cali, Colombia. This governmental organization compiles information on the distribution and abundance of flora and fauna in the Cauca Valley of Colombia and is responsible for setting conservation priorities and identifying areas for protection, as well as evaluating the impact of proposed development projects on biodiversity conservation.

Silvio Marchini

Silvio Marchini, from Brazil spent the 1997 summer as an intern with the Institute of Tropical Forestry, a division of the US Forest Service, in Puerto Rico. The ITF is an internationally recognized leader in establishing sound forestry practices in tropical countries, and is currently collaborating with the Brazilian government in establishing sustainable selecting logging projects in the Amazon. He completed a pilot study on the effects of forest fragmentation on the rates of insect herbivory utilizing the forest fragments created by the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP). Silvio obtained his masters degree from UM-St. Louis and is currently Director of a non-governmental organization called Amazonarium based in Brazil. Amazonarium is a travel organization whose mission is to promote and facilitate visits to the Brazilian Amazon through support of educational and scientific activities and the operation of ecological, cultural, exploratory and scientific tourism in the region.

Carolina Valdespino

Carolina Valdespino, a Mexican national, was supported by a Compton Foundation Fellowship during the last semester of her dissertation program. This fellowship enabled Carolina to focus on writing her dissertation on the reproductive biology of the fennec fox, which was conducted under the guidance of research scientists at the Saint Louis Zoo. Carolina’s primary interest is in the ecology and management of Mexico’s endangered fauna, especially those species which are located within the vicinity of one of the world’s largest urban areas, Mexico City. Working together with conservation scientists from the Saint Louis Zoo and international groups such as MesoAmerican Faunal Interest Group and the Captive Breeding Specialist Groups, Carolina has been an integral player in the development of recovery plans for several of Mexico’s endangered mammals, including the Mexican wolf and the volcano rabbit. From her own past experiences in Mexico, Carolina realized early on that the effectiveness of endangered species conservation relies on many factors besides sound biological knowledge. Implementation of both ex-situ and in-situ conservation strategies require considerable political expertise and close work with local communities.
Katheryne Aldas Saltos

Katheryne Aldas Saltos (Katti) received her bachelor's degree at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador. She is a member of the Fundacion Ornitologica del Ecuador and works in cooperation with Fundacion Amazonas. The former NGO is concerned with the conservation of birds and their ecosystems, while the latter (despite its name) works closely with the government to conduct impact assessments of proposed development projects in the Andes. These conservation foundations work jointly, and in close cooperation with the Minister of Agriculture, to establish conservation priorities and direct environmental action. Katti realized, through her experiences with conservation efforts in her country, the need to improve management of ecosystems and to develop practices that promote sustainable resource use in order to conserve biodiversity. Katti tells us that legislation exists within Ecuador to do this, but human priorities are overwhelming and presently one cannot isolate protected areas from human impacts. She came to UM-St. Louis on a two-year LASPAU (Latin American Scholars Program) fellowship to learn how to integrate conservation with demands and needs of people. Katti completed her master’s degree in 1998. Her research investigated the pollination biology of two Fuschia species growing in the highlands of Ecuador. She compared plant features of the two species and how they influence visitation rates of hummingbirds, and hence, pollination success.
Sandra Arango
Sandra Arango was raised in Bogota and became interested in Biology while amidst the conservation-oriented group at Pontifica Universidad Javeriana. While there she began her work with Fundacion Herencia Verde, a national conservation organization with ties to Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund. Her research and conservation activities have focused on the high Central Andes of Colombia. This region is second only to Brazil's Atlantic Forest in the magnitude of threats to its ecosystem. The area underwent colonization in the early 1900's and little remains of its montane forests, except in the most inaccessible or inhospitable areas. Land is under pressure from cattle-grazing, agriculture, and urbanization. One of Sandra's long-term goals is to convert economic activities in the region to land uses that are both economically viable and ecologically sustainable. Her affiliations with Herencia Verde, together with the skills she will acquire in her doctoral program, should place Sandra in an excellent position to achieve these personal goals. Sandra received a prestigious COLCIENCIAS fellowship from her government to study in the United States beginning in August 1994. This fellowship covers a stipend and tuition for 4 years. Sandra’s doctoral dissertation examines land uses, especially cattle-grazing, on impacts of forest regeneration in isolated patches of remaining forest. These patches represent important sources of income for local landowners as they harbor economically valuable timber species, seed sources, and fruit crops used both locally and commercially. Moreover, these forests are important for protecting water resources for nearby towns. Herencia Verde has been working with government officials to provide income to landowners for protecting forest patches, in recognition of the watershed services these forests provide. Sandra’s research was supported by UM-St. Louis, MacArthur Foundation (through a WCS-Herencia Verde program), and competitive grants from Banco Republica de Colombia and El Fondo FEN (Financiara Electrica Nacional).

Ivan Jimenez
A Colombian national, Ivan completed his B.Sc. degree at the prestigious Universidad de los Andes in Bogota in 1990. Following graduation, Ivan pursued his interest in conservation biology by conducting research on Neotropical migrant birds, and by participating in the highly competitive graduate course, "Tropical Biology and Conservation Biology" run by a Colombian NGO (FES) with funding from Wildlife Conservation Society. He has also been a long-time active member of the Asociacion Bogotana de Ornitologia, a conservation NGO focused on conservation research, environmental education, and community outreach. In 2000, Ivan successfully competed for one of the 22 slots in a new international field course for Latin American graduate students in the Amazon of Peru. Students from 13 Latin American countries attended this four-week Organization for Tropical Studies course. Since 1994, he has been conducting research on currasows in the Colombia and Peru and has pioneered work on these vulnerable birds. Currasows are among the New Worlds most threatened birds because of their susceptibility to habitat destruction and their high value as meat to local communities. His research is the first to study, in detail, the daily habits and food requirements of these large, ground-dwelling birds. After completing his Ph.D., Ivan intends to return to Colombia and work as a research professor at a major Colombian university. In this way he will be able to continue his studies in tropical conservation and also play a key role in educating the next generation of environmental leaders in his native country.
Lucio Malizia
Lucio Malizia is from Argentina and received his B.A. from the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. For his master’s degree he worked in the Yungas Ecological Research Laboratory and studied seasonality in bird communities in the subtropical mountain forests of La Florida Reserve. He has worked with programs involved in shorebird banding, peccary (wild pig) conservation and environmental impact assessment. The environmental impact assessment work involved the construction of a controversial natural gas pipeline from northwest Argentina to northern Chile. Lucio presented results of his evaluation of the pipeline's impacts at public hearings to various interest groups, including the gas company, government, local universities, local communities, political action groups, and national and international (Greenpeace) environmental NGOs. Much of his interest in environmental policy can be attributed to his involvement in this project. For his Ph.D. dissertation research he is investigating species turnover and richness across tree assemblages in Andean forests along altitudinal (400-2200 m) and latitudinal gradients. This study will evaluate the efficiency of the current protected areas program in conserving Andean forest diversity and it will also consolidate current plans to connect biological reserves across Andean ranges in northwestern Argentina. The foothills (premontane forest) have been subject to massive land conversion and studies focused on the ecology and conservation of these forests are urgently needed. In 2002, Lucio received $25,150 from the National Science Foundation to support his research program.
Grace Servat
Grace Servat, a native of Peru, a Ph.D. candidate, expects to graduate in 2003. She received her undergraduate degree from the Universidad de San Marcos in Lima. It was during these years that she conducted extensive field research in the study of Peru's birds with both national and international scientists. She is well known internationally as one of the best Peruvian ornithologists. She has strong ties with the National Museum in Lima and her future career will almost certainly be related to continued exploration of Peru's bird diversity for both scientific and conservation purposes. Her dissertation research, funded by awards from the ICTE, National Science Foundation, and American Ornithologists' Union, is focused on the bird communities of Polylepis forests in the high Andes of Peru. This system is geologically recent, and is characterized by a set of birds that are found nowhere else in the world. There has been little scientific work in the area, most probably because of the harsh and cold conditions that prevail at these elevations (>3500m) in the Andes. Her dissertation examines the role ecology and evolutionary history play in shaping the assemblage of birds found in these woodlands. Her work will be used to influence designation of protected areas in the region, and will reveal the extent to which the ecology and community function of species is determined by either local conditions or past evolutionary events. In addition, Grace has developed a collaborative project with UM-St. Louis Latin American historian, Dr. Mark Burkholder, on pre-colonial land use of these high Andean habitats in Peru. Grace has researched this project by examining rare historical documents in Peru and manuscripts in the National Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. On her return to Peru, Grace will play an active role in Andean research and conservation. She already has founded Proyecto QueÒual (Quechuan term for Polylepis woodlands), which has pulled together a team of people interested in the conservation and sustainable use of these high Andean systems. This is the first such group in Peru with a focus on the conservation of high elevation ecosystems, despite the long-term importance of these systems to indigenous peoples of Peru. She recently received a grant from the Saint Louis Rain Forest Advocates supporting activities of this new Peruvian conservation group.
Rosemary Makona
Rosemary Makona is from Zambia completed the masters in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her research project will assess the impact of the structural adjustment programs (SAP) on forest resource management and utilization in Zambia. Rosemary obtained a Forestry Diploma from the Forestry College in Kitwe, Zambia in 1982. She was awarded a B.Sc. in Agro-forestry with honors from the University of Wales at Bangor in 1994. From 1995-1997 she was a Planning Officer with the Zambian Ministry of Environment developing programs and project proposals on natural resource and environmental management. In August 1997, she was promoted to Principal Planning Officer in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources where she prepared annual reports, budgets, and work plans; organized workshops/seminars and edited the Zambian Environment Monthly Newsletter. She is now enrolled in the Ph.D. program with the Political Science Department at UM-St. Louis. When she returns home, she plans to continue working with the government or other agency in aspects of sustainable development and the management of the environment and natural resources.
Miriam Ramos-Escobedo
Miriam Ramos-Escobedo, from Mexico, has completed the Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation and her master’s degree. Miriam completed her B.Sc. at the University of Veracruz and is interested in stream ecology and conservation of watersheds. She undertook an internship with Project Stream at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. The community of Sarapiqui was in the process of organizing a plebiscite to declare the Sarapiqui watershed as Patrimonio Historico Natural. Miriam provided scientific information regarding watershed protection, prepared a document describing the biodiversity of the watershed and the human threats. Since completing her report, the Sarapiqui community voted to declare the Sarapiqui River a Patrimonio Historico Natural.
Lucia Lohmann
Lucia Lohmann is from Brazil and completed her B.S. in Biology at the Universidade de São Paulo. She is in the final stages of writing her Ph.D. dissertation that entails a systematic review of the tribe Bignonieae (Family: Bignoniaceae) and she has used both molecular and morphological techniques. The tribe Bignonieae includes all Neotropical lianas in the Bignoniaceae (approximately 350 species) and is the most diverse and abundant group of lianas in the Neotropics. This is a challenging project. The group has been poorly studied and the genera within it lack clear phylogenetic relationships and diagnostic features. Lianas account for approximately one-third of leaf biomass in tropical forests and contribute around 20% of floristic diversity in Neotropical forests. Plants within this group show economic potential as ornamentals and in the development of drugs from the secondary compounds that some of them produce. This work has established Lucia as the Bignoniaceae expert. Bignoniaceae are one of the most important tropical families in lowland forests of the New World tropics. Lucia is also working to use this plant family, and her extensive knowledge of its distribution and natural history, to identify important plant areas in the New World tropics. This planned work is in collaboration with the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development. Lucia has completed the Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation. On completion of her Ph.D., Lucia plans to teach at a university in Brazil and play an active role in documenting Brazil’s rich biological diversity with a view to strengthening programs that provide legal protection of species-rich habitats. Prior to joining our program, Lucia worked in Ducke Reserve near Manaus and co-authored the guide to the flora of this biologically-rich reserve. She is keen to return to this less-developed area of Brazil.
Homero Vargas

Homero Vargas completed his master’s degree in November 2002. He is from Ecuador where he worked as a technician with the Herbario Nacional del Ecuador for seven years and made significant contributions to botanical exploration and conservation biology in Ecuador. He has considerable experience in floristic inventory fieldwork and has led several plant collecting expeditions to remote regions of Ecuador including Llanganates National Park and Antisana Ecological Reserve. His master’s thesis provided a revision of the genus Viburnum in the Adoxaceae family in Ecuador. The Latin American representatives of this genus have received little attention despite this region being one of high diversity of Viburnum species. Homero produced a checklist of the Ecuadorian species and a key to them using both floral and vegetative characters. As part of the Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation, he completed an internship with the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development at the Missouri Botanical Garden. He studied the distributions of Araceae in the Neotropics, with special emphasis on species found in the Vilcabamba-Amboro corridor. Around 25 collections per species were analyzed to provide distributional data. Each collection was geo-referenced within the TROPICOS database maintained by the Missouri Botanical Garden and species distributions checked for outliers. The database was used to assess relationships between species distributions and protected areas and to run modeling experiments with regard to changes such as expanding agricultural areas and global warming. Homero Vargas has returned to Ecuador and assumed his new position as Director of the National Herbarium in Quito. Besides botanical research, the herbarium is heavily involved in sustainable use projects with indigenous communities throughout Ecuador.

Okong'o Akura

Okong’o Akura, from Kenya, is enrolled in the Ed.D. program in Science Education and the Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation. He obtained his Bachelor of Science Education degree from the University of Nairobi and completed his M.Ed. at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His research interests include the promotion of environmental education in schools and the improvement of science literacy among traditionally disenfranchised learners. Akura has worked as a Field Assistant with the Kenyan Rangelands Ecological Monitoring Unit and taught science to high school students in Kenya for seven years. At UM-St. Louis he has worked with the Center for Human Origin and Cultural Diversity as a Curriculum Coordinator and Assistant Director of the Center’s Summer Youth Camp. Akura completed an internship with the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden in which he developed curriculum materials and lesson plans to be used in the collaborative EarthLinks—Ecology in Transit program. Akura also undertook an internship with Population Action International (PAI). PAI, based in Washington DC, is an independent policy organization that promotes awareness of population programs through integrated policy research, public education and political advocacy. During this internship, Akura developed educational materials to be used as supplementary teaching and learning resources by teachers and pupils in schools in Kenya. He produced a prototype curriculum program that contains lesson-plans with some PAI publications as integral components of the learning activities. These lesson-plans present ecological and human population and reproductive health concepts in the context of students’ personal and social experiences. He has worked as an instructor in the Nairobi-St. Louis Cultural Exchange Program developing technology based science lessons for underprivileged students in North St. Louis and their counterparts in Nairobi, Kenya. He has also participated, as a Research Assistant, in the Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) project funded by the National Institute of Health that is designed to increase scientific literacy in children living in urban poverty. Akura will finish his Ph.D. by December 2003 and then return to Kenya.

Karina Boege

Karina Boege is from Mexico and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. In 1997, she completed a research internship at the University of California, Davis before joining the Ph.D. program at UM-St. Louis. She defended her dissertation proposal in May 2002 and has now finished her second year of fieldwork in Chamela, a dry forest located along the Pacific coast of Mexico. Her research project involves an evaluation of ecological and evolutionary consequences of the interaction among plants, herbivores and birds, and how this multitrophic interaction varies through the life history of the plants. On completion of her studies, Karina intends to return to Mexico and join an academic institution so that she can continue her research on animal-plant interactions and the conservation of tropical systems. Through her teaching and research, she would like to foster the academic development of undergraduate and graduate students. Her goals include establishing an academic network that links conservation biologists with social scientists, economists and political scientists involved in the management of Mexican natural resources.

Cintia Cornelius

Cintia Cornelius, from Chile, has defended her Ph.D. proposal and is carrying out fieldwork for her dissertation on the genetic and demographic consequences on bird populations of landscape modifications due to human activities. Cintia completed her Licenciada en Ciencias Biológicas at the Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago. Following completion of her Ph.D., Cintia will return to Chile and work to facilitate conservation programs that promote sustainable use of forest ecosystems. She is writing a chapter for a book funded by WWF on biodiversity and conservation of the southern South American rain forests that will be particularly relevant to researchers, managers and policy makers. Her career goal is to continue her research in these forests while teaching at an academic institution.

Alejandro Masis

Alejandro Masis, from Costa Rica, has undergraduate degrees from the University of Costa Rica and Kansas State University. He takes pride in what Costa Rica has achieved in environmental protection and biodiversity conservation and he has been an active supporter of programs to protect the Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG), in northwestern Costa Rica. He is a founding member of the Asociación BioGuanacaste, a non-profit organization created to help protect and expand this important biodiversity reserve. Alejandro has worked with INBio, the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad in San José, Costa Rica both as a parataxonomists and as a trainer of parataxonomists. Following the completion of his master’s degree, Alejandro will return to Costa Rica and continue his efforts promoting biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Mercedes Rouges

Mercedes Rouges is entering the final semester of her Ph.D. program. She is from Argentina and obtained her undergraduate degree in biology in 1992 at the Universidad Nacional de Tucuman. With a group of young ecologists she co-founded the Laboratorio de Investigaciones Ecologicas de las Yungas (LIEY) with the aim of stimulating research into the sustainable use of the montane forests in this region. For her dissertation project, she has studied bird community dynamics and relationships to resource abundance along an elevational gradient in the montane forests at El Rey National Park, Argentina. Her project focused on aspects of community dynamics: temporal changes in composition and abundance of bird species at four elevations (from 700 to 1700 m) and temporal changes in aspects of bird ecology such as diet composition, habitat use and reproduction. Her research has provided baseline information about bird communities in montane forests in Argentina that previously was lacking and her data already have been used to assess the feasibility of using private lands surrounding national parks as buffer zones for ecotourism and as corridors connecting the largest montane forest protected areas in northwestern Argentina. Her results have also been used for environmental impact assessments by agencies involved in the construction of the gas pipeline across montane forests and of dams in the Upper Rio Bermejo Area. Mercedes will finish her Ph.D. by July 2003 and return to the LIEY and continue her work interfacing ecological research and environmental policy.

Alberto Vicentini

Alberto Vicentini is from Brazil and is in the fourth year of his Ph.D. program. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Forestry Engineering at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba and worked as a research assistant for the Flora da Reserva Ducke, a project funded through a collaboration between the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA) and the British Department for International Development (DFID). For his dissertation research, Beto is applying molecular techniques, morphological studies and recent developments in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to understand the species diversity and evolutionary history of a small group of plants from tropical South America. On completion of his Ph.D., Beto will return to INPA in Manaus and continue his studies of the Amazonian flora. He has extensive experience documenting the flora of Ducke Reserve and the recent publication of this flora has demonstrated our poor of knowledge of the plants of this region. Intensive collecting associated with the production of this flora doubled the number of species previously recorded from this region. Clearly there is a great need for basic botanical studies in this area. In addition to botanical research, Beto plans to foster the academic development of students interested in plant systematics and ecology.

Cynthia Watson

Cynthia Watson is from Guyana and completed her first degree at the University of Guyana. Before joining the master’s program at UM-St. Louis, Cynthia was involved with several Nongovernmental Organizations that focused on conservation and sustainable development of natural resources. She worked with the Iwokrama International Center, an organization promoting rain forest conservation and development, and, as a research assistant surveyed vertebrates in a 3,600 km2 forest reserve in central Guyana. With the Centre for the Study of Biological Diversity at the University of Guyana, Cynthia was responsible for the curation and management of the vertebrate collection. She has also participated in surveys assessing mercury contamination of aquatic food chains in streams affected by small-scale alluvial gold mining operations. Cynthia is a cofounder and active member of the Guyana Nature Foundation, a group dedicated to the education of Guyanese, by Guyanese, about Guyana’s biodiversity. In her research, Cynthia will study the ecological behavior of a species of guppy, Poecilia parae. Her research will provide an important link between conservation biology and behavioral ecology.