Scientist Presentations

The World Summit brought together invited speakers from UNC, USFQ, and international partners to discuss how to ensure healthy island ecosystems for future generations. Please take a look at a variety of presentations below.

Robert Zelt

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Robert explores cybernetic infrastructure in island environments and tells us about the challenges and opportunities of the digital world. Robert supports researchers through technology consulting, infrastructure solutions, and services. Internet connectivity in the Galapagos islands is the main challenge, and Robert and his team work to solve connectivity problems for researchers while at the GSC.

Cyberinfrastructure in Island Settings: Challenges and Opportunities

William Vizuete

University of North Carolina At Chapel Hill

William explains his study of pollution and air quality in relation to climate change. Depending on the salinity of the nutrients in the sea, plankton populations could rise and fall. This then results in different amounts of emissions happening at different times and in different places in the air.

The Galápagos Islands and the Fight Against Climate Change

Caitlin Elizabeth Smith

University of the Sunshine Coast

Caitlin explains the state of health of sea turtle populations in relation to climate change and how they affect the sex ratio of this species. Sea turtles have been used as environmental indicators for decades, and can be used to observe the effects of environmental disasters such as cyclones, forest fires, and floods, and also to observe spatial and temporal changes in the ecosystem.

Establishing Comparable Health Baselines for Marine Turtle Populations

Jaime Chaves

University San Francisco de Quito

Jaime exposes the work he does together with Jack Dumbacher, Rayna Bell, and Lauren Esposito, and shows us the work they do at the California Academy of Sciences, whose mission focuses on environmental science in museums in the archipelago. Jaime explains how the data and information collections are carried out for the physical and digital museums, whose objective is to build, maintain, and use the data collections in the conservation of the islands.

The Role of Scientific Collections and Public Museums in Island Conservation

Eric Dorfman

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

In Eric's talk, we will understand how museums work for the conservation and sustainability of the islands. Eric also tells us how the museum's mission is to illuminate the natural world and inspire its conservation to help decision-making about protecting ecosystems.

What contributions museums can make to conversation about island conservation

Gunter Reck

University San Francisco de Quito

Gunter talks from history how tourism has impacted the ecosystems in the Galapagos Islands. Gunter highlights that for sustainable tourism to exist, it is important to look at the natural and social environment and the interaction between tourists and the community.

Enhancing Sustainability of Wildlife Tourism in Galapagos

Diego Quiroga

University San Francisco de Quito

Diego tells us about the article he is preparing on wildlife trafficking in the Galapagos. In 2021, an attempt was made to smuggle 185 giant tortoise hatchlings leaving Baltra airport. Diego questions the value of the Galapagos Islands in the world.

Extraction of wildlife in the Galapagos

Ellen Prager


In her talk, Ellen tells us about how science and sustainability are integrated and can be associated with cruise tourism in the Galapagos Islands. Ellen highlights the importance of sharing the stories of the locals to convey to tourists the social and wildlife conservation challenges facing the archipelago today.

Integrating Science and Sustainability in Galápagos Cruise Tourism

Norman Wray

Coordinator of the Galápagos Hub for Sustainability, Innovation & Resilience

Norman tells us in his talk about the strategies that were implemented on the islands to face the pandemic, from the creation of a laboratory to the management of containing contagion. The economic reactivation of the archipelago allows us not to forget what we have learned. Norman stresses the importance of preparing conservation economics for future problems.

What We Learn from COVID in Galápagos: Innovation Challenges on Sustainability and Resilience

Rommel Guevara

University San Francisco de Quito

Rommel talks about the work carried out by the Institute of Microbiology on SARS-CoV-2 variants, together with new findings and their incubation time. Rommel highlights the importance of monitoring that has been developed since the beginning of the pandemic.

SARS-Cov-2 Variants in Galapagos and Ecuador during the pandemic

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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!