The Half-Earth Chairs and Scholars program brings E.O. Wilson’s vision for Half-Earth to life by supporting research efforts to better understand the biodiversity of our world. The Chairs and Scholars in each region will 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.
Chairs are selected for their research leadership and ability to be role models and mentors for the next generation of biodiversity researchers in their region and globally. Scholars are selected for their potential to become the next generation of biodiversity research leaders and to serve as exemplars for careers in conservation research and action. Both Scholars and Chairs participate in a global network of researchers giving voice, taking action, and contributing to the Half-Earth Project goals and mission.
Dr. Piotr Naskrecki is the Half-Earth Project’s inaugural Half-Earth Chair. Piotr is an entomologist, conservation biologist, author, and photographer, based at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He currently 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. His scientific interests focus on the evolution of communication and sound production in insects and other animals, and the phylogenetic reconstruction of insect relationships. He is the author of over 50 scientific, peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.
Piotr’s work focuses on projects that include invertebrate animals in conservation practices and he strives to promote understanding, appreciation, and conservation of “non-charismatic” animals. In his popular writing and photography he tries to capture both their beauty and roles as vital, often critically important members of the planet’s ecosystems. He is one of the founding members of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) and his photographs and nature writing have been published in a number of national and international publications, including The Smithsonian Magazine, Natural History, National Wildlife, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine, BBC Knowledge, Terre Sauvage, Time magazine, Ranger Rick, and many others. His books illustrate a multitude of threats faced by invertebrate animals and other organisms (“The Smaller Majority”, “A Window on Eternity”), explore ancient organisms and ecosystems of the globe (“Relics”), and his most recent title (“Hidden Kingdom”) showcases the diverse insect fauna of Costa Rica.