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Plenary Session

Tropical Biology in the age of parachutes & helicopters: 30 years of observations from Rwanda and the Albertine Rift


Beth Kaplin

Thursday July 14; 16:30 hrs

Beth Kaplin is a biodiversity conservation scientist currently serving as the first Director of the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity & Natural Resource Management at University of Rwanda (UR) since 2016. This is a relatively new knowledge management research center with UNESCO Category 2 Center status aimed at contributing science to policy. She is a Professor of Conservation Science at UR, and works with BSc, MSc and PhD students at UR and other academic institutions. She is an affiliated Research Professor in the School for the Environment and Senior Fellow at the Center of Global Governance and Sustainability, both at University of Massachusetts-Boston. She is the currently President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. She received her BSc in wildlife biology from Colorado State University, and MSc and PhD in Zoology from University of Wisconsin-Madison. From 2006 to 2015, she raised over 1 million USD from the MacArthur Foundation to develop BSc and MSc programs in biodiversity conservation at National University of Rwanda. She also created the Regional Network for Conservation Educators in the Albertine Rift to support and empower conservation scientists in Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Tanzania, and Uganda with MacArthur Foundation support. Beth maintains a research program with her students on tropical forest ecology, seed dispersal, primates, protected areas conservation, ecosystem services, climate adaptation, and human-wildlife interactions that began in 1990 when she first came to do research in Nyungwe forest, Rwanda. She is very interested in evaluating and monitoring effectiveness of ecosystem-based adaptation and landscape restoration initiatives and is working with colleagues to develop the Rwanda Biodiversity Information system. Kaplin has focused her career on the role of higher education in building capacity for biodiversity conservation and climate adaptation research in Africa. She lives in Rwanda with her husband and gets to visit their family home in Vermont, USA whenever possible.

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