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

Francisco Laso, an Ecuadorian graduate student, holds a BA in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology from Columbia University (2008, USA), and an MSc in Ecology and Evolution from Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (2013, Netherlands) an Université Montpellier II (2013, France). He is currently a doctoral candidate in Geography at UNC-CH.

Currently, Francisco’s research situates humans, and farmers in particular, as crucial components for the conservation of the Galápagos Islands. Francisco’s work combines 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 has been 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 Galápagos since 2003. In 2010, he served as a field assistant with a project from the Galápagos National Park, Galápagos 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