Results of the ATBC election are in!

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Congratulations to our new officers:

President Elect

Dr. Marielos Peña-Claros

Associate Professor

Wageningen University, the Netherlands

Councilors (2016-2019)

Dr. Cristina Martínez-Garza, 

Professor, State University of Morelos, México

Dr. Rebecca Ostertag

Professor, University of –Hawaii at Hilo, USA

Dr. Patricia Wright

Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, New York, USA

Dr. Rakan A. Zahawi

Director, Las Cruces Biological Station & Wilson Botanical Garden, Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica

MARIELOS PEÑA-CLAROS. Associate Professor Wageningen University, the Netherlands (2015-present). Education: B.Sc. University of São Paulo, Brazil 1990; MSc. University of Florida, USA 1996; Ph.D. Utrecht University the Netherlands 2001. Past positions: Assistant Professor Wageningen University, the Netherlands (2010-2014); Associate Researcher Wageningen University, the Netherlands (2006-2009); Lecturer Technical University Van Hall Larenstein (2007); Executive Director Bolivian Forest Research Institute, Bolivia (2003-2006); Director Research Unit Bolivian Forest Management Project, Bolivia (2002-2003); Subdirector Research Unit Bolivian Forest Management Project, Bolivia (2001-2002);  Senior Researcher Forest Management of the Bolivian Amazon Program, Bolivia (1996-2001); Project Coordinator Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, Bolivia (1992-1993); Project Assistant, Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, Bolivia (1991-1992); Lecturer Autonomous University Gabriel Rene Moreno, Bolivia (1991). Students supervision: 11 PhD thesis, 25 MSc thesis, 5 MSc internships, 8 BSc thesis. Position of trust: Board Director of the Bolivian Forest Research Institute (elected for three terms, 2011- 2017); Advisory Committee to the Van Hall Larenstein Bachelor program Tropical Forestry, the Netherlands (2009-present); Council of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation (2005 – 2006); Board Director of the Bolivian Council for Forest Certification, Bolivia (1997-2000, 2004-2006). Editorial work: Associate Editor of Biotropica (2010 to present); Subject Editor of Biotropica (2008-2009); Member of the Editorial Board of the Revista de la Sociedad Boliviana de Botánica (2012-present). Publications: 59 scientific articles, 12 book chapters or books, 18 miscellaneous publications.

Personal statement: Over the years I have worked on a variety of research topics, mainly focussing on ecological aspects of tropical forests that are either being managed for timber or non-timber forest products or that had been impacted by human activities. In my research I use a variety of theoretical concepts (e.g., functional approach) and tools (e.g., large-scale experiments); work at several temporal, spatial and organizational scales; and actively work with researchers from different disciplines (e.g., social scientists). I have three main research lines: 1) management of forest resources and sustainable harvesting levels, 2) forest recovery after natural and human disturbances, which is crucial to understand forest resilience to global change, 3) forests in multifunctional landscapes, and the effects of land use change on the provision of ecosystem services. With my research I aim to design best management practices based on evidence-based, sound, ecological knowledge.

Given the strategic foci of the ATBC, I believe that it is critical that ecological research results are translated into the best management practices for extraction of resources (e.g., timber) or recovery of degraded ecosystems. Such practices should take into account socio-economic considerations, and therefore, we should promote interdisciplinary research and/or should engage in a more direct dialogue with field practitioners and decision makers. Additionally, I think that we should encourage greater participation of researchers from different geographical regions and research fields that are currently under represented in the association. Finally, I think that is crucial to provide opportunities for young researchers to get trained, mentored, or advised by senior members of the association, as they will have a large role in defining the future of tropical ecosystems in terms of conservation and sustainable management.

CRISTINA MARTÍNEZ-GARZA.  Professor, State University of Morelos, Mexico (since 2004); Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago, 2003. Fellowship from the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (1997-2002); National University of Mexico (B.S. 1996). Professional Societies: ATBC, Mexican Society of Ecology (SCME) and Mexican Society of Botany (SBM). Associated editor: Tropical Ecology (since 2013) and Botanical Sciences (since 2015).

Personal Statement. I believe that stopping deforestation is not enough anymore; we need to actively increase forested areas through restoration in human-modified landscapes. Currently I am in charge of two large, long-term experimental restoration projects established nine years ago at the rainforest of Los Tuxtlas, state of Veracruz (the north limit of the rainforest in America) and at the dry forest of the state of Morelos, in Mexico funded by the NSF-USA and National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico. In both places, economic activities still take place whereas plans and animals move in the landscape using the islands we created.  I have participated also in the establishment of restoration plantings in the dry forest of the states of Puebla, Jalisco and Morelos, Mexico using restoration plantings as experiments. These experiments include restoration treatments with different degrees of intervention: minimal, as exclusion of chronic disturbance, intermediate as direct seeding and maximal as reintroduction of tree species as seedlings from the mature forest. I teach population ecology, restoration ecology and different topics of conservation. I have directed 11 bachelor theses and 4 master theses, mostly of women students. Currently, I have 10 undergraduate and 4 graduate students under my direction. I have seen how students grow in knowledge and security when they attend ATBC meetings. As a council member, I would like to promote the participation not only of graduate students but also undergraduate students and to encourage research connecting conservation and restoration in human-modified landscapes through the coexistence of economic activities and forest fragments.

ReBECCA Ostertag. Professor, University of –Hawaii at Hilo, USA (2012-present); Associate Professor, University of Hawaii at Hilo, USA (2006-2012); Affiliate Graduate Faculty, Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology Program and Dept. of Botany, University of Hawaii at Mānoa; USA (2004-present), Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii at Hilo, USA (2001-2006); Post-doc Associate, University of California, Berkeley and International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Puerto Rico (1998-2001); Ph.D., University of Florida, USA (1998). Professional Societies: American Geophysical Union, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Organization for Tropical Studies, Ecological Society of America, Sigma Xi, Society for Ecological Restoration. I have been fortunate to conduct research in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. I am a forest ecologist who examines questions relating to biological invasions, nutrient cycling, and restoration.  My research has a strong field component and involves integration of natural history, community structure, and ecosystem dynamics.

Personal Statement: I feel a strong commitment to tropical biology that started the first time I stepped into a tropical forest as an undergraduate. I have lived and conducted all of my research in the tropics for most of the last two decades, and I want to see ATBC be recognized as a world leader in tropical conservation and education.  ATBC will always be a group of wonderful, dedicated scientists, but as a council member I will push for broader international membership, more opportunities for students, and advocacy for wise forest use and conservation in the public policy arena.

RAKAN A. (ZAK) ZAHAWI. Director, Las Cruces Biological Station & Wilson Botanical Garden, Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica (2006-present); Adjunct Faculty Duke University (2004-present); Research Associate University of California, Santa Cruz (2008-present); Ph.D. University of Illinois (2003); B.S. University of Texas (1992). Society Memberships: ATBC (1997-present), Ecological Society of America (2003-present), Society for Ecological Restoration (1995-present). Service: Co-Chair ATBC 50th Congress, San José, Costa Rica (2013); Supervisory Committee 2nd US – Costa Rican debt for Nature swap (2010-present); Amistosa Biological Corridor Advisory Committee (2010-2015); Ad hoc NSF panels; reviewer for >25 journals. Research interests: Forest regeneration in degraded tropical habitats, forest dynamics in fragmented landscapes, seed dispersal ecology, restoration ecology, conservation biology. Field research conducted in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Ecuador.

Personal Statement: As a tropical ecologist with more than a decade living, teaching, conducting research, and promoting conservation initiatives in Central America, I believe I am well-situated to be an effective ATBC councilor. In my research I have evaluated theoretical ecological concepts centered on forest recovery in degraded habitats where I have quantified both the obstacles to recovery, and developed cost-effective strategies to facilitate or accelerate succession once sites are abandoned. Research has been both observational and experimental, and I have established large- and small-scale projects with fellow collaborators and students from multiple institutions. In my current position as Director of a large field research station in southern Costa Rica, I interact with a wide range of researchers from the Americas as well as from Europe; many universities also make use of the field station and reserve for teaching purposes. Accordingly, I have an expansive international network of contacts that I could tap into to help advance key aspects of the new strategic foci adopted by ATBC in the last meeting. I can also promote broader participation in ATBC by researchers and students – especially those from underrepresented countries in Latin America. Lastly, I have worked in community engagement and capacity building, and have engaged in ambitious fundraising efforts to further conservation initiatives at multiple levels, all of which are key goals for ATBC. As a councilor, I believe that as I could help further the mission of ATBC and increase the reach and breadth of the organization, particularly for the Neotropics.

PATRICIA C. WRIGHT.  Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University (1995 to present); Distinguished Service Professor, State University of New York (2014 to present); Visiting Research Professor, Department of Ecology and Systematics, University of Helsinki, Finland (2006-2010); Director of the “Fall Semester in Madagascar” Study Abroad program (1993-2016) and “Summer Study Abroad in Madagascar” (2010-2016); Member of the Conservation Trust, National Geographic Society (2001-2010);  Member of Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society (2000-2009); Executive Director, Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stony Brook University (1992 to present); Faculty, Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution, Interdepartmental Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University (1992 to present);  Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, SUNY Stony Brook (1991-1995); Interim Director of the Duke University Primate Center, Duke University (1990); International Coordinator, Ranomafana National Park Project (1987-1998); Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Anthropology & Anatomy, Duke University (1987-1990);  Visiting Research Associate, Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology (1986-1988); Research Associate, Duke University Primate Center (1983 to present). Chevalier National Medal of Honor (1995), Officier National Medal of Honor (2005) and Commandeur Medal of Honor (2014) from the Madagascar Government. MacArthur Fellow (1989-1994), Hauptman-Woodward Pioneer in Science Medal (2007), Indianapolis Prize for Animal Conservation (2014). Founder and Executive Director of Centre ValBio Research Station in Ranomafana, Madagascar (1991-2016). Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stony Brook University (1993-2016). Media output includes IMAX 3D film “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” narrated by Morgan Freeman (2014) “Forests of our Ancestors Madagascar” (2009),”High Moon over the Amazon: my quest to understand the monkeys of the night” (2013), For the” Love of Lemurs: My life in the wilds of Madagascar” (2014).

Personal statement: Personal Statement. I have over 35 years experience in research on tropical rain forests, mostly in South America, Borneo and Madagascar.  During my graduate research I worked on the behavioral ecology of owl monkeys and titi monkeys at Cocha Cashu Research Station, Peru, and La Golondrina Ranch, Paraguay.  As a post-doc I studied tarsiers in Borneo. My research now focuses more on understanding the ecological processes including predation, seed dispersal and primate communities in rainforest in Madagascar. I founded and direct the Centre ValBio Research Station in Ranomafana National Park. This station integrates biodiversity studies, conservation biology, sustainable development, modern laboratories including molecular biology, GIS and infectious diseases.  In addition, I have been organizing two field program for 20-25 undergraduates a year for 25 years, in Madagascar and I have mentored over 26 graduate students in tropical biology. I am enthusiastic and long-standing member of the ATBC.  As a Councilor I will help to expand the ATBC to scientists in Madagascar and the African tropics which to date have been unrepresented in the Association.