Chairs and Scholars

Half-Earth is a call to protect half the land and sea in order to manage sufficient habitat to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity. The Half-Earth Chairs and Scholars program champions biodiversity research and nurtures scholarship to better understand our interconnected world and how to care for it.

The Half-Earth Chairs and Scholars program brings E.O. Wilson’s (1929–2021) vision for Half-Earth to life by supporting research efforts to better understand the biodiversity of our world. Chairs and Scholars provide leadership around the unique socioeconomic needs and conservation priorities of their region of the world, increasing the global footprint, depth of academic rigor, and regional scientific insight needed to successfully reach the goal of Half-Earth. 

The Half-Earth Chairs and Scholars program champions scientific leadership, biodiversity research and teaching that informs regional and worldwide conservation management and provides a model for next-generation stewardship.

Who are the Half-Earth Chairs and Scholars?

“The Foundation and Half-Earth Project are committed to promoting model field research that builds a more comprehensive database of the Earth’s vast biodiversity and utilizes this as a fundamental tool for the management of places for conservation. So, we’re very proud to have Piotr and Ricardo lead the way as our inaugural Half-Earth Chair and Scholar.” – Paula Ehrlich, President and CEO, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and Half-Earth Project lead.

Half-Earth Chair Piotr Naskrecki

Inaugural Half-Earth Chair Piotr Naskrecki is an entomologist, conservation biologist, author, and award-winning photographer based at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He directs the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique where he trains a new cadre of Mozambican biologists and conservationists, and helps rebuild the park, which suffered during the recent civil war in that country. Dr. Naskrecki created and administers the Half-Earth Fellowships in Taxonomy and Biodiversity Exploration, an intensive multi-week taxonomy training for emerging scientists under the direction of leading scientists. The second class of fellows recently graduated. Learn more about Piotr Naskrecki.

Half-Earth Scholar Noriña Vicente

Noriña Vicente was born in Tete Province, Mozambique. She is an Entomologist in training and photographer. She earned her B.Sc. degree in Ecotourism, Wildlife and Management from Instituto Superior Politécnico de Manica (Manica province).

Noriña is a Half-Earth Scholar and an associate Research Scientist at Gorongosa National Park. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s program at San Francisco State University in Integrative Biology.  Her interest involves understanding the Evolutionary, Ecology and Conservation Biology of insects, particularly ants. Learn more about Noriña Vicente.

Half-Earth Scholar Ricardo Guta (1999 – 2022)

Ricardo Guta a native Mozambican, was named the inaugural “Half-Earth Scholar” in 2020 by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, and was a recent M.Sc. graduate in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town studying the phylogeography of flightless spring katydids in the Greater Cape Floristic Region.

Ricardo joined the Gorongosa National Park research team as an intern on a biodiversity survey project and later worked for seven years at the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory in Gorongosa National Park as a research technician focusing on insect biodiversity. He completed his undergraduate Biological Sciences degree at the Universidade Lúrio in Mozambique.  More recently, he worked with the African Honeyguides Project to better understand the effect of human-honeyguide mutualism on honeybee behavior and ecology, and pollination in Niassa Special Reserve.

In 2022, Ricardo successfully defended his M.Sc. and was enrolled in a PhD program in entomology at University of Cape Town, exploring the influence of honeyguide-human mutualism on honeybee ecology. Ricardo Guta passed away in December 2022 while conducting field research. Learn more about Ricardo Guta.





Take a trip to Gorongosa

On May 6, 2020, the Half-Earth Project hosted a live virtual happy hour in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, where Half-Earth Chair Piotr Naskrecki, Half-Earth Scholar Ricardo Guta, and scientific team member Norina Vicente shared their extraordinary Gorongosa success story, a story that is inspiring and informing other conservation efforts in Africa and around the world, blazing the path to a Half-Earth future.

More video from the event.