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Cole to take helm of Las Cruces Research Station and Wilson Botanical Garden

The Organization for Tropical Studies is pleased to announce Dr. Rebecca J. Cole will serve as the next Director of the Las Cruces Research Station and Wilson Botanical Garden beginning October 17, 2016.

Dr. Cole has a long standing commitment to tropical research and conservation. Growing up in a small farming community near Las Cruces in southern Costa Rica, she saw first-hand the consequences of deforestation, subsequent land degradation, and the challenges of sustainable land use. Dr. Elizabeth Losos, OTS President and CEO, notes that, “Rebecca is an outstanding scientist and educator.  But what makes her exceptionally well suited for this position are her deep ties to the surrounding communities and the issues facing them, having grown up very close to the station.”

Dr. Cole earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Cruz testing ways to restore rainforest to degraded lands in Costa Rica and examining how reforestation could improve local livelihoods. As a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Colorado-Boulder, Rebecca worked with collaborators to study large-scale patterns in nitrogen and carbon across one of the most productive and diverse tropical forests in the world on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. In her current position at University of Hawaii at Manoa, she has established a long-term project to monitor recovery of threatened ecosystems and test ways to restore native plant communities in Hawaii.

In 2011, Rebecca co-founded a non-profit organization, the American Climber Science Program (ACSP) to conduct volunteer research and conservation in remote and mountain environments globally. This work has taken her to the tops of high peaks in the tropical Andes and Costa Rica to study such topics as the effect of pollution on glacier loss and the impact of grazing and climate change on grasslands. In her spare time, she enjoys trail running, mountain biking, and working on her family farm near the Las Cruces Research Station.

“For the last decade, Zak Zahawi has vastly expanded Las Cruces’ facilities and attracted a wide range of new research to the station and the surrounding areas.  Rebecca is the ideal candidate to continue and increase Las Cruces’ role in research, education, and conservation,” said Dr. Liana Babbar, OTS Costa Rica Director, “She will be an extraordinary asset to OTS.”

As director, Dr. Cole intends to continue her research on restoration ecology, ecosystem ecology, and global change biology in the tropics.  Her research in Costa Rica is currently testing how different tree planting strategies can be used to accelerate forest succession. She will also continue working through the University of Hawaii on the recovery of native plant communities and ecological processes following removal of nonnative, invasive ungulates from Pacific Island forests.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Cole to the OTS Community.


Last Updated ( 08/30/16 )
Organization for Tropical Studies
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