Xavier Silva, PhD, Academic Director
Dr. Xavier Silva, an Ecuadorian, received his PhD in entomology applied to ecology from the Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris, France. He earned his master’s degree and BS at the same university focusing on ecology and biology, including population ecology, biogeography, and other environmental sciences applied to tropical ecosystems. Dr. Silva has worked extensively in applying his scientific knowledge to the conservation of natural resources in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in several countries in Africa and Asia. For several years, Dr. Silva was the director of biodiversity conservation for The Nature Conservancy’s Latin America and the Caribbean program based in Washington, DC. Dr. Silva was later the director of NatureServe’s Latin America and Caribbean program. Dr. Silva has also taught at the San Francisco University of Quito. Among his several publications, Dr. Silva has written several books, including Butterflies of Ecuador and Ecuador’s Butterfly Ecology, which was awarded Best Biological Publication of Ecuador in 2012. Currently, Dr. Silva is president of the Entomological Society of Ecuador and is a member of the Entomological Society of France and the Ornithological Society of Ecuador.
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Leonore Cavallero, Intercultural Specialist
Leonore Cavallero has an MA in multicultural education / bilingual counseling from the University of San Francisco, California. She has worked with SIT since 1993, as an academic director of the Ecuador: Culture and Development program and, for one semester, SIT’s Cape Town, South Africa, program. Her professional experience in Ecuador includes eight years working for the Peace Corps Training Center as family coordinator, master trainer, and interim training center director. Prior to the Peace Corps, she worked for two years as a guidance counselor for Ecuadorian high school students. Leonore regularly presents sessions on intercultural/interpersonal relationships and safety issues to international education and volunteer organizations based in Ecuador. She wrote Surviving Re-entry: A Readjustment Manual for Parents, a handbook for parents of students returning home from studying abroad, as well as a safety manual for students. In her role as intercultural specialist, Leonore serves both programs in Ecuador, using her expertise to provide support and assistance to students and staff. She has lived in Ecuador since 1981 and raised her two children in a bilingual environment. She has Ecuadorian residency and dual nationality in the US and Italy.
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Javier Robayo, Academic Assistant
Javier Robayo is one of the leading Ecuadorian biologists applying ecological sciences for conservation purposes in the country. He holds a BS in biology from Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and he is currently finishing an MS in psychology from the Instituto Humanista de Psicoterapia Gestalt of Monterrey, Mexico. Javier Robayo has been working in a variety of science and conservation programs in Ecuador, including the establishment of 15 of the most important private reserves in the country, located in different ecosystems and regions, such as the endangered Pacific Coast dry forests, eastern and western cloud forests, Andean páramo highlands, and the Amazon rainforest. He has also participated in several conservation projects in the Galápagos Islands. In order to establish sustainable and ongoing conservation activities, Javier Robayo has been working extensively with local communities, involving them in the management of different reserves; this approach has proved to be very fruitful. During the last 14 years, he has been working with the most prestigious national and international conservation nongovernmental organizations. Javier Robayo also has several years of experience teaching conservation biology and botany of Ecuador in the field for international groups at different institutions, such as the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and several US-based universities.
Lecturers for this program typically include:
Tatiana Santander, MSc
Tatiana Santander is an Ecuadorian biologist holding an MS in natural protected areas from the Universidad Autónoma, Madrid, Spain, and a BS in biology from the Universidad Católica of Ecuador. She currently works for one of the leading conservation nongovernmental organizations in Ecuador, Aves y Conservación, which focuses on the protection of birds and their habitats. Her conservation science and research projects have taken her to different regions and ecosystems in Ecuador, and one of her main research activities was an in-depth study on the biology and conservation of the Nazca booby in the Galápagos Islands. Tatiana Santander has also led several expeditions to discover and monitor endangered bird species in Ecuador. In order to promote sustainable conservation activities, she works closely with local communities, developing participatory, educational, and technical training programs. Tatiana Santander has been involved with the Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation program as a lecturer and a field science resource in the main excursions, such as the cloud forest, Andean páramo highlands, Amazon forest, and the Galápagos.
Diego Quiroga, PhD
Diego Quiroga holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently vice president of external and student affairs at Universidad San Francisco de Quito and co-director of the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and the Sciences (GAIAS). Dr. Quiroga serves as a lecturer and a member of the local review board for the Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation program. His area of expertise is sociocultural anthropology, and his topical interests include medical anthropology, environmental anthropology, and indigenous and Afro-American cultures of Latin America. He has also served as dean of the graduate school, dean of academic affairs, dean of social sciences, and full-time professor at Universidad San Francisco de Quito; he has taught courses in history, Andean anthropology, and medical anthropology. He has conducted extensive research in Ecuador, and his work has been published in many prestigious academic journals. Amazon Basin Productive Systems and Health in Communities Living in the Upper Amazon Basin, Ecuador, and Magic and Healing: The Role of the Devil and the Saints in Muisne, Ecuador, constitute some of his major contributions to the field.