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Environmental Scientist Will Lead ACM Costa Rica Programs

Published: May 29, 2016

Environmental Scientist Will Lead ACM Costa Rica Programs

Students on a Costa Rica program excursion to Sirripiqui Waterfall.

Javier Espeleta, an ecologist with wide-ranging experience in environmental and earth sciences research, education, and outreach, and as a leader of interdisciplinary projects and organizations in both the US and Costa Rica, has been appointed Director of the ACM Costa Rica programs.

Dr. Javier Espeleta

Dr. Javier Espeleta

"As a Costa Rican who has also spent many years teaching and conducting research in the US, Dr. Espeleta brings skills, administrative experience, a cross-cultural background, and professional connections in Costa Rica that will greatly benefit our students and colleges," said Joan Gillespie, ACM Vice President and Director of Off-Campus Study Programs. "His vision for the program is consistent with the liberal arts and developing students' abilities to solve problems across disciplinary fields."

"He has demonstrated expertise in his academic field and has successfully worked in varied settings and capacities, from mentoring students to managing post-doctoral research groups to leading a non-governmental organization and other projects that engage with the public," she said. "We are excited that Dr. Espeleta is joining the ACM community and are looking forward to introducing him to the faculty advisors and other long-time supporters on the campuses of the two Costa Rica programs."

Espeleta received his Ph.D. in plant ecophysiology from the University of Georgia, and also has degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Costa Rica.

During the past decade, he has conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Washington, University of Minnesota, and Florida International University, and served as a researcher and teacher in Costa Rica at EARTH University and La Selva Biological Station. In addition, he coordinated interdisciplinary teams of scientists working on research projects and developing environmental education and science outreach programs at the University of Arizona and Biosphere 2.

As Executive Director of the Tropical Science Center in San José, Costa Rica, the country's first environmental NGO, Espeleta led a variety of initiatives and supervised the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Beginning in June, Espeleta will oversee the academic, administrative, and financial aspects of the ACM Costa Rica programs and supervise program staff and research advisors. He will also foster the programs' relationships with important ACM partners in Costa Rica, including government agencies, host families, universities, and research organizations. During the fall semester program, he plans to teach an interdisciplinary course on global climate change.

The ACM has provided study away opportunities in Costa Rica since 1964 and for over 30 years has operated two programs. The fall semester Community Engagement program offers courses in three academic areas — public health, education, and the environment — and features a month-long community-based learning service project, either in San José or in rural areas. In the spring Field Research program, students conduct significant independent research projects, primarily in the natural and social sciences. Intensive Spanish language instruction is offered both semesters.


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