ABOUT US

VISION

The Galapagos Science Center seeks to be the leading research center in Latin America that promotes the conservation of the Galapagos and its fragile ecosystems. We support the sustainable development of iconic and native species, ecosystem goods and services, and the local population through interdisciplinary science achieved through an integrated approach to research, experiential education, and community outreach.

MISSION

The Galapagos Science Center serves as a research hub for international researchers to conduct both basic and applied scientific investigations to inform solutions to complex problems in the natural laboratory of Galapagos. We strive to educate students, local people, and citizens of the world about the challenges to stewardship of protected areas, to not only preserve the Galapagos but other similarly challenged settings around the globe through an integrative approach of innovation, discovery, and learning. 

Through participatory methods and integrative approaches, the GSC works along three pillars:

1) Interdisciplinary research that includes the natural, social, and computational sciences.

2) Experiential education to inform the local community and citizens of the world about important global challenges.

3) Community support through a variety of mechanisms including the GSC Annual Community Symposium, training courses, science education in local schools, and sustainable development initiatives.

The Galapagos Science Center is overseen by the GSC Advisory Board, a governing board of successful scientists with years of experience working on research projects in Galapagos.

The GSC Advisory Board is composed of appointed representatives from both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). The Board meets annually to strategically advise the Co-Directors of the Galapagos Science Center, Amanda Thompson (UNC) and Carlos Mena (USFQ) in their leadership of the institution and facilities.

GSC ADVISORY BOARD

UNC members include:

USFQ members include:

Carlos Mena, ex-officio
Carlos Valle
César Zambrano
Gunter Reck
Jaime Ocampo
María de Lourdes Torres
Sofía Tacle, USFQ Secretary
Stella de la Torre, Vice Chair

USFQ members include:

Carlos Mena, ex-officio
Carlos Valle
César Zambrano
Gunter Reck
Jaime Ocampo
María de Lourdes Torres
Sofía Tacle, USFQ Secretary
Stella de la Torre, Vice Chair

UNC members include:

MEET THE TEAM

Our Team from USFQ

Carlos Mena

Co-Director, Galapagos Science Center (USFQ)

Director, Galapagos Research (USFQ)

cmena@usfq.edu.ec

Dr. Carlos Mena is a geographer interested in a wide variety of issues that emerge from the interaction between social and natural systems, including the impacts of extractive industries (oil and mining), land use and land cover in the tropics, climate change and infectious diseases, and tourism research.

Methodologically, his research uses a combination of social survey methods, remote sensing and spatial analysis, complex models (Agent Based Models), and participatory/community methods of data collection.

His work has been funded by the US Academy of Sciences, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NASA, The Inter-American Institute for Global Change, HIVOS, the Ecuadorian Government, USAID, and USFQ.

Carlos is the Co-Director of the Galapagos Science Center, as well as, Director of the Galapagos Research USFQ.

Sofía Tacle

Assistant Director, Galapagos Research (USFQ)

Director, Galapagos Research (USFQ)

stacle@usfq.edu.ec

Sofia studied her undergraduate degree in International Relations at USFQ  and later completed a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Sede Ecuador (FLACSO).

Sofia is the Assistant Director of the Galapagos Science Center in Quito. One of her objectives and goals is to position the Galapagos Science Center as one of the most recognized research centers in Latin America and the world.

In her spare time, Sofia enjoys reading, hiking, and enjoying time with her family.

Linda Chiriap

Asistente Administrativa 

lchiriap@usfq.edu.ec

I am currently studying graphic design in interactive media. I live in a multi-diverse and multicultural country with four regions. By merging two important parts of our regions, such as the Amazon and the insular part, I hope that we will be heard and achieve future projects where we can protect the islands and our Amazon, which are the future of the world. My career is fundamental with this so it is closer to the futuristic world.

Our team from UNC Center for Galapagos Studies

Amanda Thompson, PhD, MPH

Co-Director, Center for Galapagos Studies, UNC, Co-Director, Galapagos Science Center, San Cristobal, Ecuador Professor, Anthropology, UNC Professor, Nutrition, UNC Associate Chair, Department of Anthropology, UNC CGS Faculty Research Director GSC Advisory Board, ex-officio

althomps@email.unc.edu

Amanda Thompson is a human biologist specializing in human growth and nutrition. She focuses on the biological pathways linking early life social, behavioral and physical environments to the development of obesity and chronic disease across a range of national and international settings, including North Carolina, China, and Ecuador. She is particularly interested in how early life nutrition and environmental exposures shape long-term health and obesity risk.

Diego Riveros-Iregui, PhD
Co-Director, Center for Galapagos Studies, UNC Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor of Geography, UNC Faculty, Institute for the Study of the Americas, UNC CGS Faculty Research Director GSC Advisory Board, Member
diegori@unc.edu

Dr. Riveros-Iregui’s research foci include watershed science, forest and soil processes, ecosystem ecology, and human-water-environment interactions. Before coming to Carolina in 2013, he worked as a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Colorado (2008-2010) and as an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska (2010-2013). His field studies include subalpine forests of the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Colorado, agricultural landscapes of Nebraska and Iowa, and highly impacted sites of the Andes Mountains of Colombia and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

He teaches courses on hydrology, watershed science, environmental systems, and field methods in physical geography. He regularly teaches a field course on Tropical Ecohydrology to UNC students who travel with him to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. In total, he has taken 34 UNC undergraduates to Ecuador with support from UNC’s Study Abroad Office and the Center for Galapagos Studies for a three-week course. The course focuses on the hydrologic cycle and the interactions and feedbacks between hydrological and ecological processes, with an emphasis on the sustainability of freshwater resources. In addition, 3 of those students have returned to Ecuador to conduct their own research projects under my supervision. He has received numerous awards, including the J. Carlyle Sitterson Award for Teaching First-Year Students, and the National Science Foundation Early Career Award.

Phil Page

Assistant Director, Center for Galapagos Studies (UNC)

philpage@unc.edu

Phil Page has oversight responsibilities for UNC’s activities with the Galapagos Science Center, as well as for general science, education, and logistics issues associated with UNC’s Center for Galapagos Studies.  As a UNC alumnus himself, he relishes working with all the faculty and students from different departments and schools who are doing amazing Galapagos work.  He is trained as a geographer and has taught multiple times in the UNC Galapagos Study Abroad program and, when time allows, participates in research projects there as well.

Kelly Weaver

Director of External Affairs & Communications, Center for Galapagos Studies (UNC)

weaverk@email.unc.edu

Kelly brings over 10 years of experience working in higher education both in the US and UK across Business Development, Fundraising and Career & Leadership. As Director for External Affairs & Communications, Kelly will develop strategies for fundraising, communications and international partnerships as it relates to UNC’s Center for Galapagos Studies. She recently worked at UNC Kenan-Flagler, managing relationships with global companies within energy, sustainability, healthcare and consulting. Prior to joining UNC Kelly spent six years working at University of Oxford in various roles such as Senior Development Executive for Saïd Business School and fundraising for Oxford Sport during London 2012. Before moving to the UK, Kelly was Senior Woman Administrator and Head Tennis Coach at Meredith College, leading the team to two NCAA appearances. She has worked in the corporate sector as an attorney and a global project manager. Kelly earned her BA in Foreign Affairs from University of Virginia and her JD from UNC School of Law.

Kelly has worked and traveled in nearly 30 countries and enjoys exploring new cultures. She is excited to be doing meaningful work with global impact and to ultimately help protect the Galapagos for future generations.

Katya McKerr

Project and Operations Manager, Center for Galapagos Studies & Galapagos Science Center

mkmckerr@email.unc.edu

Katya was born in Peru and has lived in the United States since 2003. She earned a BA in Management and Society with a minor in Hispanic Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a native Spanish speaker with ten years of experience working in the travel industry, where she trained personnel in five different countries. She loves to learn about new traditions and has visited around twelve countries. She is passionate about protecting the environment and enjoys working with people from around the world.

As the Project Manager, she manages services, programs, logistics, and activities for the Galapagos Science Center and UNC Center for Galapagos Studies including events on campus. Katya was responsible for the organization planning of the World Summit on Island Sustainability at the Galapagos Islands, hosting 150 participants from around the globe. UNC-Chapel Hill’s leadership including the Chancellor, Provost, Vice Provost for Global Affairs, and Interim Vice Chancellor for Research also attended. She supports the CGS and GSC’s team to manage services, programs, logistics, and activities.

Katya is responsible for Operations Management, which includes working directly with the Galapagos Science Center’s Assistant Director to improve protocols, develop institutional manuals, produce relevant documentation, and prepare equipment catalogs.

Last, Katya provides essential bilingual Travel Management support to the team, scientists, and students interested in traveling to the Galapagos to conduct research. In particular, she assists in obtaining their transit certificates, required for all affiliates researching in the Galapagos.

Finally, Katya is responsible for Financial Management, including purchasing equipment, bookkeeping, billing, and managing accounts receivable. She also coordinates international wire transfers with the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito for our international projects.

Our team from GSC

Ana Lucía Carrión

Assistant Director, Galapagos Science Center,Research Coordinator

acarrion@usfq.edu.ec

Ana studied Ecology at USFQ and received a Master’s degree in Protected Area Management at James Cook University, Australia.

Ana is the Assistant Director, Galapagos Science Center in Galapagos, where she coordinates the effective execution of the GSC’s operations to promote high-quality scientific research in the Galapagos. Ana also manages scientific research projects within the framework of the management guidelines established by the Environmental Authority.

Ana has worked in projects of biological monitoring, conservation, ecological restoration, and participatory management and management of natural resources in Galapagos and different protected areas in Ecuador. Ana strives to help position the GSC as one of the most important research centers in the Galapagos by generating key knowledge for the conservation and sustainable development of the islands.

Ana enjoys doing outdoor activities and photographing animals, especially birds.

Sylvia Sotamba

Administrative Coordinator, Galapagos Science Center

ssotamba@usfq.edu.ec

Sylvia joined the USFQ – Galapagos Extension as a World Wide Fund (WWF) fellow in May 2008 and in 2016 she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Business Administration at USFQ.

Sylvia is the Administrative Coordinator at the Galapagos Science Center, and her responsibilities include managing and providing administrative and logistical assistance to all the staff and researchers. In addition, she coordinates and supervises the maintenance, cleaning, and safety area of ​​the GSC.

In her free time, Sylvia enjoys walking, reading, cycling, listening to music, tending to her garden at home, and reading articles related to the environment and culture.

Leidy Apolo

Community Outreach Coordinator, Galapagos Science Center

lapolo@usfq.edu.ec

Leidy obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Tourism from the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) and for over five years she has worked on projects linking to the community. Leidy currently serves as the GSC Community Outreach Coordinator.

One of Leidy’s main objectives is to contribute to the change of behavior of those who participate in her different outreach programs and to continue learning from all the people she has the privilege of working with.

Leidy has a passion for plants and enjoys growing and caring for them. She enjoys promoting good habits from home, so she regularly prepares healthy meals with her daughters.

Karina Vivanco

Communications Coordinator, Galapagos Science Center

avivanco@usfq.edu.ec

Karina Vivanco, a documentary filmmaker, graduated from Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador) with a degree in Film and TV Production. In 2011 she got a master’s degree in “Documentary Film” at Escuela de Cine Internacional de Barcelona (Spain). Currently, she is in the process of completing a research master’s degree in Socio-environmental Studies at Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (Ecuador).

Karina knows environmental communication and the management of social networks. Between 2015 – 2017, she worked in the Communication Directorate of the Ministry of the Environment of Ecuador where she developed several communication campaigns focused on education and environmental awareness, and between 2018 – 2019 she worked at Radio Pichincha Communications where she developed several communication products about the socio-environmental problems that afflict the rural areas of the province of Pichincha.

Karina enjoys nature and is focused on the development of powerful communication to make audiences aware of a more harmonious relationship with Mother Earth.

Silvia Zavala

Experimental Education Coordinator, Galapagos Science Center

szavalam@usfq.edu.ec

Silvia received her undergraduate degree in Marine Biology and Freshwater at the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, graduating with honors in 2018.

Silvia is the Experimental Education Coordinator at the Galapagos Science Center and and is in charge of the design, coordination, execution and evaluation from various education programs including active research activities for national and international students, manages and organizes groups that visit the GSC, creates and designs programs, organizes the participation of teachers and students, accompanies their visits, and evaluates their experience.

Silvia hopes to consolidate and structure study programs that are specific to the GSC and are aimed at local, national, and international students.

Ariel Pila

Terrestrial Ecology Laboratory Coordinator, Galapagos Science Center

apila@usfq.edu.ec

Ariel studied Technology in Production and Industrial Safety at Universidad de las Américas (UDLA). In 2018, he complete an International Certification Yellow Belt Lean Six Sigma with LSS Institute.

Ariel is the Terrestrial Ecology Laboratory Coordinator at the GSC and provides support to researchers and students who use the laboratory. Among his responsibilities, he collects data from the meteorological stations maintained by the GSC on the island, as well as monitoring other sensors for research air quality, rainwater isotope measurements, and freshwater flow monitoring.

Ariel considers himself a curious and active person with new knowledge and experiences always motivating him. Living in San Cristobal has brought him closer to the sea, so surfing has become his hobby.

Cristina Vintimilla

Laboratories Manager, Galapagos Science Center

Marine Ecology Laboratory Coordinator

cvintimillap@usfq.edu.ec

Cristina obtained her degree in Applied Ecology at USFQ and later obtained her Master’s degree in Marine Sciences with a focus on Resource Management at the Universidad Nacional Costa Rica.

Cristina is the Laboratories Manager and the Marine Ecology Laboratory Coordinator at the Galápagos Science Center, where she provides support for the projects to be executed according to the needs raised by global researchers. Before this role, Cristina worked for two years as an assistant coordinator for the Forest Stewardship Council in Ecuador and spent a year as part of the consulting team at Greenwise.

Cristina loves to travel to new places, explore new cultures, and visit national parks and nature to photograph their fauna, flora, and landscapes. She loves being near the sea, snorkeling, diving, and listening to the sea.

Daniela Alarcón

Special Education Projects Coordinator, Galapagos Science Center

dealarcon@usfq.edu.ec

Daniela earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marine Ecology from USFQ and, after completing her degree, she was part of the volunteer program with the Parque Nacional Galapagos (PNG) and participated in several marine research projects. She received her Master’s degree in Protected Area Management from James Cook University, Australia. Daniela now works as the Special Education Projects Coordinator at the Galapagos Science Center.

Daniela hopes to continue with marine research through emblematic projects to contribute to knowledge about the marine megafauna in Galapagos and its possible threats to inform policy makers. Daniela is passionate about the underwater world, organic agriculture, and reducing the unnecessary consumption of products to contribute to leaving a better world. As a hobby, she loves rock climbing, mountain biking, surfing, and experimenting in the kitchen with different recipes.

Luis Tasipanta

Data Science and Visualization Laboratory Coordinator

ltasipanta@usfq.edu.ec

Luis studied Systems and Computer Engineering at the Escuela Politécnica del Ejército (ESPE) in Ecuador.

Luis is the Information Technology Systems Coordinator and the Spatial Analysis & Modeling Laboratory Coordinator at the Galapagos Science Center. He is also working on obtaining the international CISCO certification. He has worked at the Galapagos Naval High School, at the Galapagos District Education Office, and the Galapagos Electoral Tribunal.

In his spare time, Luis likes to practice ping-pong, taekwondo, and cycling. In addition, on weekends he is dedicated to agriculture on his farm.

Jessenia Sotamba

Administrative Assistant, Galapagos Science Center

jesotamba@usfq.edu.ec

Jessenia is the Administrative Assistant of the Galapagos Science Center. Jessenia’s job consists of supporting the science coordinator, managing research permits, field notices, requests for export of samples, and other related activities to science and research. She is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Management at USFQ- Galapagos extrension.

In 2017 and 2018, Jessenia was in charge of coordinating research cruises led by the GSC in collaboration with the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park (DPNG), an activity where several national and international researchers participate intending to collaborate in the conservation of species of the archipelago.

In the future, Jessenia hopes to travel to other parts of Ecuador such as Mindo and the Amazon to enjoy its nature and culture. She is a lover of sunsets accompanied by good wine, music, and a book.

Fabiola Quiñonez

Housekeeping Specialist

Marcos Gutiérrez

Maintenance Specialist

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