E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation Names New Half-Earth Chair

Foundation Also Creates Jack and Laura Dangermond Scientific Chair Post

DURHAM, N.C., April 23, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation has named Dr. Alessandro Catenazzi as its new Half-Earth Chair. Catenazzi is a Swiss-Peruvian herpetologist with a strong interest in conservation biology. Much of his work is based in the Andes-Amazon of Peru, focusing on the existence of the Chytrid fungus in amphibians. He is an Associate Professor at Florida International University in Miami.

Catenazzi follows the inaugural Half-Earth Chair Piotr Naskrecki. The Foundation is thankful for Naskrecki’s ongoing leadership, which has seen him mentor seven young Mozambiquan scientists in Gorongosa National Park. Together, they discovered 100 new species to science, identified 25 endemic to Gorongosa, and collected data for 750 species on the IUCN Red List. These Scholars have gone on to pursue and complete advanced research degrees in wildlife conservation and have become regional leaders in protecting Mozambique’s unique flora and fauna. Naskrecki will continue to work as associate director of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique and as Half-Earth Chairs, has a permanent role on the Half-Earth Council.

Program Director of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation Brooks Bonner remarked, “I hope the next Half-Earth Chair will build on the incredible foundation established by the inaugural Chair, Dr. Piotr Naskrecki. Piotr’s efforts in Gorongosa National Park championed local insights and provided trainings so that the next generation of biodiversity scientists will have the knowledge and technical skills to pave a new path in preserving Mozambique’s incredible biodiversity.”

Half-Earth Chairs are selected for their research leadership and ability to act as role models and mentors for the next generation of biodiversity scientists. Half-Earth Scholars are mentored by Half-Earth Chairs to advance their learning and research and empower local stewardship of biodiversity. Half-Earth Chairs are eligible for $30,000 of funding per year for up to 4 years in support of their research or program activities.

The Half-Earth Chairs & Scholars program is supported by ADM (NYSE: ADM), a global leader in human and animal nutrition. Through ADM Cares, the company's corporate social investment program, ADM directs funding to initiatives and organizations driving meaningful social, economic, and environmental progress.

“We at ADM are absolutely thrilled to work with the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation to support the Half-Earth Chairs & Scholars program, and to help provide a pathway for the next generation of biodiversity scientists to thrive through hands-on research experiences and technical skill development,” said Jennifer Ballinger, director, ADM Cares. “Strategic partnerships such as this are key to delivering on ADM’s purpose of unlocking the power of nature to enrich the quality of life, and by championing the Half-Earth Chairs & Scholars program, we can help drive future biodiversity stewardship.”

Catenazzi was selected by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation’s Half-Earth Chairs & Scholars Advisory Board. They include Krithi Karanth, CEO and chief conservation scientist at the Centre for Wildlife Studies; Tom Lalampaa, CEO of the Northern Rangelands Trust; Lesley de Souza, lead conservation scientist at the Field Museum; Brooks Bonner, program director at the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation; along with Dr. Paula Ehrlich, president and CEO of the Foundation; and Dr. Walter Jetz, scientific chair of the Foundation.

Additionally, the Foundation has named Jetz as the first Jack and Laura Dangermond Scientific Chair of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, a title that honors the Dangermond family’s continued support of the Foundation and its programs.

The announcement was made on March 16 during a gathering of environmental advocates and philanthropists at the Dangermond Preserve in California. Jack and Laura Dangermond hosted the event to raise awareness of and support for the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and the Half-Earth Project.

Longtime advocates for protecting the environment and natural habitats for plant and animal life, Jack and Laura Dangermond have been the lead supporters of the Half-Earth Project which aims to conserve half the Earth’s land and sea areas to reverse the extinction crisis and safeguard the bulk of biodiversity for future generations. Their company Esri, a global market leader in geographic information system software, location intelligence, and mapping, is a key partner of the Half-Earth Project Map which utilizes geospatial species distribution data and analytics to identify which locations on Earth have the best opportunity to conserve the most species.

“We have paid tribute to Jack and Laura Dangermond by naming the role Walter Jetz currently holds in our organization for them,” said Ehrlich. “Our leadership team created this title to honor the extraordinary way Jack and Laura Dangermond have supported our organization and its aspirations.”

Jetz brings an outstanding record of active scholarly engagement to the role, according to Jack Dangermond. “We are delighted to support Dr. Jetz’s work through the naming of this Chair,” Dangermond said.

“I am thrilled about this new naming of my role,” added Jetz, who also serves as a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and environment at the Yale School of the Environment. “Through their tremendous leadership around technology, Jack and Laura Dangermond have, for decades, been supporting a more effective decision-making process for conservation. And through their exemplary philanthropic engagement, they are securing land and seascapes vital for biodiversity and people for future generations. I am honored by their recognition.”

About the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation
The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation's mission is to reimagine the way we care for our planet. The Foundation’s major initiative, the Half-Earth Project, is working to inspire informed collective action to save the biosphere. Visit www.eowilsonfoundation.org to learn more.

About ADM
ADM unlocks the power of nature to enrich the quality of life. We’re a premier global human and animal nutrition company, delivering solutions today with an eye to the future. We’re blazing new trails in health and well-being as our scientists develop groundbreaking products to support healthier living. We’re a cutting-edge innovator leading the way to a new future of plant-based consumer and industrial solutions to replace petroleum-based products. We’re an unmatched agricultural supply chain manager and processor, providing food security by connecting local needs with global capabilities. And we’re a leader in sustainability, scaling across entire value chains to help decarbonize our industry and safeguard our planet. From the seed of the idea to the outcome of the solution, we give customers an edge in solving the nutritional and sustainability challenges of today and tomorrow. Learn more at www.adm.com.

Media Contacts:

E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation
Niquole Esters
Vice President of Strategic Engagement
(510) 631-7571

Jackie Anderson
Director, External Communications
(312) 634-8484

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at: 


The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation