Community and Human Health

This is a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach — working at the local, regional, national, and global levels — to achieve improved human health and well-being. Our approach identifies the inhabitants who are most vulnerable due to a lack of material wealth, water and food insecurity, and gender-related issues. We recognize that the health and well-being of local inhabitants is key to the conservation and sustainability of the Galapagos, like many other ecologically sensitive places.

Our projects include topics in: Epidemiology, Public Health and Policy, Gender Studies, Tourism, and Food Security, Nutrition and Pollution

Let’s meet the impactful projects and their researchers:


Eco-business skills, sustainable development and business on world heritage environments

Researcher: Candy Abad Arévalo

Year: 2024

Digital archeology and virtual reality at the Muro de las Lágrimas site (1940-1959)

Researchers: Fernando J. Astudillo, Paúl Rosero

Year: 2024

Analysis of stable isotopes of water (delta18O and delta2H) in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a base line for high-impact hydrological scientific studies

Researchers: Pablo Dávila, Stefan Terzer, Kevin Rodríguez, Wendy Vernaza, María Soledad Sarsoza, Marjorie Riofrío-Lazo

Year: 2024

Youth perceptions of living in the Galapagos: Relationships, health, and the future

Researchers: Cindy Fraga, Rainier Masa, Mimi Chapman

Year: 2024

Dietary decision-making in the context of water insecurity: Perspectives from adults on the Galapagos Islands

Researchers:  Joshua Miller, Amanda Thompson, Khristopher Nicholas, Linda Adair, Jill Stewart, Valeria Ochoa-Herrera 

Year: 2024

Investigation of factors of malnutrition in the inhabitants of San Cristóbal Island

Researcher: Jaime Ocampo

Year: 2024

Livestock welfare management; antimicrobial knowledge, attitudes and practices among farmers; and presence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing (Escherichia coli) in the sectors of One Health, Floreana Island, Galapagos

Researcher: Sarah Rhea

Year: 2024

Characterization of the anthropogenic impact on antibiotic resistance in the environment

Researchers: Jill Stewart, Valeria Ochoa, Corbin Jones, Amanda Thompson, Hanna Brosky, Alyssa Grube

Year: 2024

The dual burden of disease in the Galapagos, Ecuador: An interdisciplinary study of food and water on Isabela Island

Researchers: Amanda Thompson, Donald L. Fejfar, Elijah Watson, Kishan Patel, Nick Badhwa, Khristopher Nicholas, Margaret Bentley, Jill Stewart

Year: 2024

Water, food, and health in San Cristóbal: The healthy family study

Researchers: Amanda Thompson, Enrique Terán, Margaret Bentley, Jill Stewart, Jaime Ocampo, Graham Pluck, Khristopher Nicholas

Year: 2024

Social and environmental factors associated with human health in Galapagos, Ecuador

Researcher: Amanda Thompson

Year: 2024

Alien species in the Galapagos: Quantifying environmental and socio-economic impacts and assessing stakeholder perceptions

Researchers: Pieter Marinus Johannes van‘t Hof

Year: 2024

Academic Practice Partnership for Pofessional Development (ADAPT)

Researcher: Megan Williams

Year: 2024

Study of the circulation of (Toxoplasma Gondii) in the Galapagos through molecular methods

Researcher: Sonia Zapata

Year: 2024

Gender-based violence during COVID-19 in the Galapagos Islands

Researchers: Sofia Zaragocín, Joyce Robalino, Isabel Iturralde

Year: 2024

Lessons from the environmental resistome in Galapagos: A One Health perspective

Researchers: Jill Stewart, Alyssa Grube

Year: 2023

Water quality assessments on San Cristóbal Island, Ecuador

Researchers: Jill Stewart, Alyssa Grube, Valeria Ochoa Herrera

Year: 2023

Understanding young adults (18-24 years of age) risks and protective factors related to youth pregnancy and violence in the Galapagos

Researcher: Natalia Villegas Rodríguez

Year: 2023

The value of mangroves and other coastal habitats for fishery species in the Galapagos Islands

Researcher: Ronald Baker

Year: 2022

Identification of movement patterns, habitat use, diet patterns and epidemiological factors associated with the positive diagnosis of (Mycoplasma spp) and (Toxoplasma spp) in cats on San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos

Researcher: Jaime Grijalva

Year: 2022

Researchers: Khristopher M. Nicholas, Amanda Thompson, Peggy Bentley, Sally Kuehn

Year: 2022

Food environments in the Galapagos: geographic and behavioral determinants of diet and health

Researchers: Khristopher M. Nicholas, Margaret Bentley, Amanda Thompson

Year: 2022

Investigation and monitoring of impacts in visiting sites of the Galapagos National Park, with an adaptive and integrated approach

Researchers: Susana Cárdenas, Günther Reck, Yu Fai Leung, Maryuri Yépez, Katalina Gallardo, Alex Hearn, Gonzalo Rivas, Valeria Ochoa-Herrera

Year: 2021

Healthy moms, healthy babies: The intergenerational effects of maternal stress in the Galapagos Islands

Researchers: Hannah Jahnke, Amanda Thompson, Margaret Bentley, Enrique Terán

Year: 2021

Agriculture, wildlife, and land use in the Galapagos

Vulnerability and adaptive capacity in a tourist destination community, San Cristóbal, Galapagos

Researchers: Francisco Laso, Steve Walsh, Javier Arce-Nazario

Year: 2015-2021

Synthesis of drivers, patterns, and trajectories of LCLUC in Island ecosystems, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Researchers: Steve Walsh, Richard Bilsborrow, Laura Brewington, Yang Shao, Hernando Mattei, Francisco Laso, Phil Page, Brian Frizzelle

Year: 2017

Beaches in the Galapagos

Researchers: Steve Walsh, Laura Brewington, Phil Page, Brian Frizzelle

Year: 2017

Fish and marine invertebrates served in restaurants and their relationship with the tourism industry in Galapagos

Researcher: Margarita Brandt

Year: 2016

Historical ecology of the Galapagos Islands

Researcher: Florencio Delgado

Year: 2016

Modeling fisheries in the Galapagos Islands

Researchers: Steve Walsh, Kim Engie, Phil Page, Brian Frizzelle

Year: 2016

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In 2022, the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) and the broader UNC & USFQ Galapagos Initiative will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. We are proud to announce the World Summit on Island Sustainability scheduled to be held on June 26–30, 2022 at the Galapagos Science Center and the Community Convention Center on San Cristobal Island.

The content of the World Summit will be distributed globally through social media and results documented through papers published in a book written as part of the Galapagos Book Series by Springer Nature and edited by Steve Walsh (UNC) & Carlos Mena (USFQ) as well as Jill Stewart (UNC) and Juan Pablo Muñoz (GSC/USC). The book will be inclusive and accessible by the broader island community including scientists, managers, residents, tourists, and government and non-government organizations.

While the most obvious goal of organizing the World Summit on Island Sustainability is to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the GSC and the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, other goals will be addressed through special opportunities created as part of our operational planning of the World Summit.

For instance, we seek to elevate and highlight the Galapagos in the island conservation discourse, seeking to interact with other island networks in more obvious and conspicuous ways to benefit the Galapagos Islands, the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, and the world. We will seize the opportunity to further develop the I2N2 – International Islands Network-of-Networks. Further, we wish to highlight and emphasize multiple visions of a sustainable future for the Galapagos Islands and we cannot do this alone. Therefore, engaging the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, the Government Council of Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park, and local Galapagos authorities, including government and non-government organizations and local citizen groups, is imperative.

The Galapagos Science Center on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Borrowing from Hawaii’s and Guam’s Green Growth Program and the Global Island Partnership, we wish to examine existing global programs that emphasize island sustainability and their incorporation into life, policies, and circumstances in the Galapagos Islands. We will also seek to enhance our connections with the institutional members of our International Galapagos Science Consortium and expand the Consortium through the recruitment of other member institutions. We will also work to benefit islands and their local communities by working with citizen groups as well as important NGOs who seek to improve the natural conditions in the Galapagos and diminish the impact of the human dimension on the future of Galapagos’ ecosystems.

Lastly, we will use the World Summit to benefit UNC & USFQ and our constituencies through a strong and vibrant communication plan about the World Summit, creating corporate relationships as sponsors, identifying funding goals through donors, and benefiting our study abroad program for student engagement in the Galapagos Islands. We plan to develop and issue a Galapagos Sustainability Communique after the World Summit that includes the vision and insights of all its participants for a sustainable Galapagos with applicability to global island settings.

We are eager to hear your perspective and have you join us at the World Summit on Island Sustainability!