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PhD Geography, UNC-CH 2021
WWF Russel E. Train Fellow

Francisco Laso received his BA in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Columbia University (2008, USA), and an MSc in Ecology and Evolution from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (2013, Netherlands) and Université Montpellier II (2013, France). He received his Ph.D. in Geography from UNC in 2021.

While studying at UNC, Francisco conducted research that situated humans, and farmers in particular, as crucial components for the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. Francisco’s work combined quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the complex interactions between land use, invasive plants, and protected wildlife. For this work, Francisco designed and conducted capacity-building workshops for local students and conservation practitioners about the use of mapping and geospatial information systems for conservation research (2016) as well as organized interdisciplinary knowledge exchanges between farmers and scientists of the Galapagos (2019). Francisco’s dissertation work was funded by the Russel E. Train Education for Nature Fellowship, the Off-Campus Dissertation Fellowship, the Institute for the Study of Americas, and the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research program.

Francisco has participated in conservation and environmental education programs in the Galapagos since 2003. In 2010, he served as a field assistant with a project from the Galapagos National Park, Galapagos Conservancy, and SUNY-ESF in the monitoring of tortoise populations after they were re-introduced to the island of Pinta. In 2013 Francisco led local and international student groups in field outings on the Island of Santa Cruz with Ecology Project International. He also taught university-level courses about natural resource management in the Galapagos Institute for the Arts and Sciences.

Research Projects