Panama

Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems & Biodiversity Conservation

Lecturers

LECTURERS TYPICALLY INCLUDE:

Edgardo E. Díaz-Ferguson, PhD
Edgardo is a marine biologist and geneticist with 17 years of experience in research, education, marine resources management, and conservation. He holds a BS in zoology from the University of Panama, an MS in marine ecology from the University of Costa Rica, and a PhD in animal biology and genetics from the University of Cadiz in Spain. Edgardo has conducted four postdoctoral experiences in the United States: University of Washington, University of Florida, University of Georgia, and Auburn University. Edgardo has been certified as a Spanish-English translator and interpreter by the University of Massachussets and has graduate studies in higher education from the Latina University.  Currently, he is the executive director and scientific coordinator of Coiba Island Scientific Station, where he leads national and international projects in marine conservation, animal ecology, multiple scales of diversity, ichthyology, conservation genetics, and fisheries.

Osvaldo Jordan, PhD
Osvaldo is a Panamanian biologist who holds a PhD in political science from the University of Florida, Gainesville. He was the first academic director of the SIT Panama program. Osvaldo specializes in ethnic studies and political autonomy among indigenous groups, His lectures focus on poverty, indigenous people, Panamanian political systems, and the environment. He has worked with the National Environmental Authority, the Panama Audubon Society, and Conservation International. For the past several years he has devoted most of his effort to the Panamanian-based organization Alianza para la Conservacion y el Desarrollo (ACD), which works with Ngobe and Naso leaders to defend the natural ecosystems and traditional cultures in La Amistad UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Omar López, PhD
Omar holds a PhD and an MS in biology from the University of Utah and a BSc in botany from the University of Panama. He is the principle investigator for a nationwide inventory of alien plant species across Panama, which is a collaboration between Panama’s Ministry of the Environment and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Omar has worked throughout the United States as a guest lecturer and researcher. He also has worked in cross-cultural contexts as a researcher, advisor, and lecturer.

Juan Maté, PhD

Juan completed his doctorate in marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami and has since been involved in research projects both independently and with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, where he is a full-time field scientist. His interactive, dynamic, and visual field-based teaching style complements his theoretic, laboratory, and field experiences.

Melva Olmos, MS

Melva Olmos received her MS in wildlife management in 2004 from Universidad Nacional de Portuguesa, Venezuela. Since then, she has dedicated her career to the conservation of wildlife in Panama. Currently, Melva works for the NGO Panthera as a wildlife conservation biologist. Her projects focus on jaguar (Panthera oca) conservation and mediation of human-jaguar conflicts in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

Chelina Batista, PhD Candidate

Chelina is a PhD candidate in environmental management at the University of Barcelona. During the last 20 years, Chelina has worked on avian research and conservation throughout Panama, including population studies on forest birds, avian migration monitoring, and megaproject impacts on native bird species. Currently, Chelina is the scientific director of the NGO ADOPTA in Panama.

Edgardo Griffith


Edgardo is the founding director of El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center. He is considered to be the key scientist responsible for the rescue of the golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). Edgardo’s efforts have been featured in The Sixth Extinction, PBS’s The Thin Green Line, the BBC’s Life in Cold Blood, and Harbinger. Edgardo continues to work toward saving gravely threatened amphibian populations in southern Central America.

Eric Manzané, PhD

Eric earned his PhD from the University of Miami and has carried out postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Yale University, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Eric is a plant eco-physiologist and specializes in liana biology and plant phenotypic plasticity.

Gabriel Jácome
Gabriel is a marine biologist who specializes in mangrove and seagrass environments. For fifteen years, he worked as the deputy director of the Smithsonian Institute Bocas del Toro Caribbean field station on research and conservation projects. Currently, Gabriel is the head inspector in the environmental department of the Ministerio de Comercio e Industria for the Panamanian government.