Cristian Samper

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Cristián Samper (sahm-PAIR), "a biologist and international authority on environmental policy, is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History...

"Prior to coming to Washington, D.C., Samper, 42, was deputy director and staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the largest research facility for tropical biology, with emphasis on tropical forests and coral reefs, from 2001 to 2003.

"From 1999 to 2001, he was chairman of the Subsidiary Body of Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. In this role, Samper helped develop a global strategy for plant conservation and launched the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, designed to determine the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and provide the scientific basis for action to conserve and use ecosystems sustainably.

"From 1995 to 2001, Samper was the founder and first director of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute, the national biodiversity research institute of Colombia. He was responsible for developing the National Biodiversity Policy for Colombia, promoting research on biological inventories, conservation biology and sustainable use of biodiversity. At the same time, he served as chief science adviser for biodiversity for the Colombian government and served on the boards of many environmental institutions. For his contributions, he was awarded the National Medal of the Environment by the president of Colombia in 2001.

"Samper served as director of the environment division of the Foundation for Higher Education in Colombia from 1992 to 1995, and he also was adjunct professor of biology at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia. He was a moving force behind the establishment of a network of private nature reserves and major environmental education programs throughout Colombia.

"Known for his work in the ecology of the Andean cloud forests, conservation biology and environmental policy, Samper currently sits on the Boards of Directors for the American Association of Museums, the Center for International Forest Research, and the Nature Conservancy.

"Born Sept. 25, 1965, in San José, Costa Rica, Samper grew up in Colombia and holds dual citizenship from the United States and Colombia. Samper received a bachelor’s degree from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá (1987); he earned his master’s degree (1989) and doctorate degree (1992) in biology from Harvard University, where he was awarded the Derek Bok prize for excellence in teaching." [1]

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  1. Directors, WWF USA, accessed October 5, 2008.
  2. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Panel, organizational web page, accessed November 28, 2014.