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STRI at the Anthropology congress, Steve Paton at mangrove workshop, new park ranger building, Punta Culebra updates, and more

June 28, 2019

STRI in Anthropology Congress

From June 18 to 21, the II Congress of Anthropology and History of Panama took place, with the participation of several STRI researchers. Among them, archaeologist Richard Cooke, during the presentation of a volume of the journal Cuadernos de Antropología that honors his trayectory. Scientists from his laboratory, Nicole Smith-Guzmán, Leslie Naranjo and Vanessa Sánchez, as well as zooarchaeologist Ashley Sharpe, presented on topics of bioarchaeology and paleopathology. Meanwhile, Associate Director for Science Administration, Oris Sanjur, participated in a round table on the role of international cooperation in research and development in Panama. STRI's research associates, Marixa Lasso, Tomás Mendizábal and Julie Velásquez-Runk also enriched the congress, with conferences about history, archaeology and anthropology. On behalf of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, forensic anthropologist Douglas Ubelaker gave a conference about recent advances in his field.

Steve Paton at Mangrove Workshop

STRI researcher, Steve Paton, participated in the ‘Expert Workshop on Mangroves’, organized by Panama’s National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (Senacyt). During the activity, there were exchanges between the different researchers studying the mortality of trees in the mangroves of the Bay of Panama, caused by the El Niño phenomenon in 2015-2016. The results of the different studies were presented and there was discussion about possible roadmaps towards the long-term monitoring of Panama's mangroves.

New Park Ranger Building

This month, the new park ranger building was inaugurated on Barro Colorado island. Because of its location near the shore and due to the construction of the new set of locks in the Canal and the expected increase in Gatun Lake levels, the original building had its days numbered. The new structure, which was built with the guidance of the Smithsonian Institute, the support of the Panama Canal Authority and the talent of the STRI construction team, is at a strategic point, where the park rangers will have a clear visibility of the docks that will allow them to keep the area safe.

Punta Culebra Activities

The Punta Culebra Nature Center has had its hands full. The Q?Bus is on the road again, taking fun science activities to schools in Panama, Panama Oeste and Colon. By the month of November, it will have reached 80 schools and community centers. Recently, a new exhibition based on research by STRI scientist Héctor Guzmán was also inaugurated in Punta Culebra, on which a law of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) was based, aimed at reducing the risk of collisions between ships entering the Canal and migratory humpback whales. The Nature Center also took advantage of the school break, from June 4 to 9, to organize special activities for children that taught them about the sloths, birds and plants of the area. That same week, a seminar-workshop for public school teachers took place, in which they learned to implement inquiry-based science in the classroom.

STRI Town Hall Meeting

The first Town Hall Meeting of the year was held in mid-June. During the meeting, STRI's collaborators had the opportunity to learn about the Strategic Plan of the Institute 2019-2024 and about the new LiveSafe application to report emergencies. STRI's academic programs and their importance for the mission of the Institute were also discussed. During the activity, scientists Roberto Ibáñez and Carlos Jaramillo shared with the public about their ongoing projects and the advances in their research.

June Public Talk

The public talk of the month was presented by STRI researcher Dioselina Vigil Pimentel. The biologist talked about the Panamanian fossil dolphin, Isthminia panamensis, a species never seen before and whose discovery on the Caribbean coasts of Panama aided our understanding of the evolutionary history of freshwater dolphins in America.

Conservation for Kids

On Tuesday, June 25, Associate Director for Communications, Linette Dutari gave a talk about environmental conservation to a group of 150 first grade children from the Oxford School. The purpose of the talk was to introduce them to the importance of preserving the environment, under the concept of “take care of the planet that takes care of you”. The children also had the opportunity to enjoy the new golden frog video, in which this charismatic amphibian talks about its new home in the PARC.

First Wounaan Woman in Diplomatic Career

Floriselda Peña Conquista graduated this month from the Diplomatic and Consular Career of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her first job was with the STRI-INRENARE project, “Management of Cattle with Indigenous and Peasant Communities of Darién”. Born in the Emberá Wounaan Comarca, Floriselda is the first Wounaan woman among the 19 graduates of over 600 applicants.

Empowered women

STRI researcher Gina Della Togna was honored as one of the five most empowered women in Panama, for her career as a scientist and one of the only two women in the world who studies assisted reproduction in captivity of Atelopus zeteki, or the Panamanian golden frog. This recognition is part of an exhibition ‘Empoderadas’, by the Museum of the City, which aims to challenge the viewer’s preconceptions regarding the work a woman can or can’t do. A giant photograph of Della Togna at work, alongside those of the other four women selected, will be exhibited outside several buildings around the city, including that of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives. 

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