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Arturo Gómez-Pompa: 1934—: Ethnobotanist, Educator, Advisor/Consultant

Founded Institute

In Mexico Gómez-Pompa founded the National Institute of Biotic Resources (INIREB), the impetus to agroecology, a new field of research into low-tech agricultural methods in rain forests. His conclusions highlighted local initiatives as the best way to preserve nature. By drawing on traditional farm lore, he deduced that indigenous cropping methods are more effective than imported techniques. From his studies, he organized a pilot program, the Maya Sustainability Project, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with which was intended to aid Mayan dwellers of southern Mexico. His immersion in local farming methods helped to define conservation goals and to enlist grassroots efforts to preserve nature's balance.

At a Glance . . .

Born in Mexico in 1935. Education: Instituto Mexico y Centro Universitario Mexico, B.S., 1956; National Autonomous University of Mexico, M.S. and Ph.D., botany, 1966.

Career: National Institute of Forestry Research, technical director, 1959-65; National Autonomous University of Mexico, botany professor, 1965-80; National Institute of Biotic Resources of Mexico, founder-director, 1975-84; founder-director, University of California, Riverside, founder-director, 1986–.

Memberships: Society for Conservation, Society for Economic Botany, American Institute for the Advancement of Science, Botanical Society of Mexico.

Awards: Guggenheim Fellow, 1964; Mercer Research Fellow, 1964; Ford Foundation Fellow, 1965; Visiting Scientist, Royal Society, 1967; El Merito Botanico Medal, 1978; honorary research associate, Mesoamerican Ecology Institute, Tulane University, 1982; Golden Ark Medal of the Netherlands 1984; Bullard Fellow, 1984; Alfonso L. Herrera Medal, 1984; Tyler Laureate, 1994; American Association for the Advancement of Science Award, 1995; Hispanic Achievement Award, 1999.

In explanation of his fervor on behalf of nature and poor campesinos, Gómez-Pompa spoke passionately about the capability of humans to transform nature. He concentrated on the lowland Maya regions, where one culture has shaped the environment during a residency of 3,000 years. By recording the impact that indigenous people have on tropical dry forest ecosystems, he helped a consortia of investors, governments, scientists, and donors to manage and restore natural resources. Essential to his work with multidisciplinary teams of observers was an understanding of the region's ecological history. He continued research at La Sabana, his laboratory at El Edén Ecological Reserve in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Bob Graham (1942-) Biography - Awards to Francis Hendy Biography - Born to SewArturo Gómez-Pompa: 1934—: Ethnobotanist, Educator, Advisor/Consultant Biography - Developed Interest In Ecology, Founded Institute, Advised Governments, Rewards And Challenges