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STRI special events, April 2024

April 30, 2024

Happy Retirement Noris Salazar, Congratulations, Leila, FestiHarpia 2024 and more.

Happy Retirement Noris Salazar

On Tuesday, April 2, STRI celebrated 34 years of extraordinary dedication and service by Dr. Noris Salazar Allen, botanist specialized in bryophytes.

Dr. Salazar entered the botany program in 1965 at the University of Panama, and shortly thereafter was awarded a scholarship to obtain her bachelor’s degree in general biology at Trinity College in 1969.

Upon returning to Panama, she worked as a botany assistant at the University of Panama, and became interested in studying bryophytes, the smallest and oldest plants in the world, classified into mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. She returned to the United States to study for a master’s degree in bryology at the State University of New York at Geneseo, and completed his PhD at the University of Alberta, Canada. To date, she has managed to name four bryophyte species and four subspecies.

Dr. Salazar's commitment and effort have left an important legacy in our institution. We wish you a joyful retirement.

Congratulations Leila!

We are proud to inform that Leila Nilipour, Copywriter and storyteller at STRI has been chosen to co-lead an SI wide committee for “building and communicating marine biodiversity knowledge”. Leila was selected by Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science and Research at The Smithsonian's office, and will be co-leading alongside Carole Baldwin, curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Punta Culebra starts their 2024 school program

On Friday, April 5th, Punta Culebra started their 2024 school program with a full house! The school program runs from April until the end of November and receives groups of children from kindergarten through 12th grade with special educational activities.

Culebra guides visit BCI and Naos

As part of their training as Punta Culebra guides, tours of Barro Colorado Island and the Naos laboratories were organized, where the new guides learned about the facilities and their operation, and the projects and research done at both sites. For many of them, this was the first time they had visited both facilities.

FestiHarpia 2024

Q?Bus program staff and guides from Punta Culebra participated at the annual celebration of Panama's national bird, the harpy eagle, at the Summit Municipal Park, offering games like the "BioJenga" and science-inspired activities based on the eagle's food chain, with the "Fonda Q?rioso" highlighting the diversity and use of bird’s beaks.

Visit to the Gamboa Bat Lab

On April 16, the Gamboa Laboratory was visited by an international group of 57 sixth grade students from Balboa Academy in Panama. Thanks to the large number of wonderful STRI scientist volunteers, the children had the opportunity to split into small groups to rotate through eight different learning stations, and see a wide range of STRI research projects in action – from learning about color patterns on the wings of butterflies, to how birds follow army ant swarms and profit from the insects flushed in their midst, to getting a glimpse into the fascinating world of fungi, bats, pseudoscorpions, hummingbirds, and so much more! The school visit was joined by STRI’s mobile learning station, the Q?Bus, which challenged students to come up with hypotheses and think through the scientific method. Huge thanks to Gamboa’s scientific coordinators and allies – especially Isis Ochoa, Gregg Cohen, Imran Razik, and Rachel Page – for putting this fun learning experience together.
Images courtesy of Mary Heather Jingco

World Art Day and Earth Day Q?rioso Event

Punta Culebra merged the celebrations for World Art Day and Earth Day in an event where they brought together science and art with nature in a fun way through games, painting, and theater.

Visit of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Panama

Recently, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Panama, James Dauris visited Punta Culebra Nature Center. The Ambassador toured the Center, visited the exhibits, met with the various inhabitants, and had a meeting with the Director of STRI, Josh Tewksbury.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences welcomes STRI scientist Helene Muller-Landau

On April 24th, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced that STRI staff scientist Helene Muller-Landau was elected as a new member in 2024.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences honors excellence and convenes leaders from every field of human endeavor to examine new ideas and work together to address issues of importance to the nation and the world. Among the 250 members joining this year, Muller-Landau was elected for the Evolution and Ecology section in the Biological Sciences class.

“I'm very honored and humbled to be elected to membership in this distinguished group,” said Muller-Landau. “I thank all the wonderful mentors, colleagues, students, and fellow Smithsonian employees who have helped me along the way. I look forward to contributing to the academy's important work.”

Muller-Landau joins other previously elected members from STRI, including former director Ira Rubinoff and scientists Mary Jane West-Eberhard, William Eberhard, Nancy Knowlton, Dolores Piperno, and the late Richard Cooke.

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