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

Rewards And Challenges

In 1994 Gómez-Pompa's activism on behalf of endangered habitats and peasant farmers earned him the Tyler Award; the next year, he won an American Association for the Advancement of Science Award. In September of 1996, he was honored as keynote speaker at the First Sustainable Coffee Congress, when he addressed traditional methods of growing coffee that do no harm to wildlife.

In 1999 presenters of a Hispanic Achievement Award lauded his sensitivity to rain forest destruction in Mexico and around the world. By enlightening the world to endangered tropical plant life, he became one of Mexico's prime forest conservationists. Through diplomacy and pragmatism, he guided debate on the best means of protecting fragile ecosystems and advised the Mexican government on ways to assure Mesoamerica's biological heritage.

One of Gómez-Pompa's ongoing projects involves developing a pilot tropical forest program comprised of 27 community-based projects in Mexico's lowland tropics. For the achievement of environmental goals for the Mexican government, he coordinates several funding agencies. For another endeavor, he studies different types of forest gardens in the Mayan area. He also analyzes the evolution and domestication of cacao and develops videofloristic projects on the cycads (tropical plants that resemble palms) of Mexico, trees of the Great Peten, ethnoflora of Yucatan, and cultivated species of avocado. In addition to his speaking engagements and publications, he supervises a university website, "Plant Resources Informatics Laboratory."

Selected Writings

Ecological Studies of the Hot-Humid Tropical Zones of Mexico (coauthor). Mexico City: Special Edition by Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, 1964.

"On Maya Silviculture," Mexican Studies, 1987.

"The Sacred Cacao Groves of the Maya" (contributor), Latin American Antiquity, September 1990.

"Taming the Wilderness Myth" (coeditor), BioScience, 1992.

"Los Huertos Familiares Mayas de X'uilub" (contributor), Biotica Nueva Epoca, 1993.

Las Areas Naturales Protegidas de Mexico (contributor). Mexico: Publications of SEMARNIP, 1994.

"Ancient Cacao Cultivar Confirmed with Molecular Markers" (contributor), Nature, 1995.

"Biodiversity and Agriculture: Friends or Foes?," in Proceedings of First Sustainable Coffee Congress, Robert A. Rice, Ashley M. Harris, and Jennifer McLean, eds. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1997.

"Genetic Diversity and Relationships of Wild Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) in Southern Mexico" (contributor), Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 1998.

"Allelochemical Potential of Metopium brownei" (contributor), Journal of Chemical Ecology, 1999.

Lowland Maya Area: Three Millennia at the Human-Wildland Interface (co-author). New York: Haworth Press, 2002.



Biography and Genealogy Master Index (database). Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale Group, 1980-2001.

Castri, F., & T. Yo nes, eds. Biodiversity, Science and Development. New York: CAB International, 1996.

Lugo, A., C. Lowe, eds. Tropical Forests: Management and Ecology, Springer Verlag, 1995.

Notable Scientists from 1900 to the Present. 2nd edition. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale Group, 2001.


Agricultural History, Summer 1995.

Daedalus, Fall 2001; Spring 2000.

Ecology, August 1991.

Environmental History, April 1, 1998.

Hispanic, July 1999, p. 56.

Journal of Ecology, March 1992.

Scientist, January 1995.


Additional information for this profile was obtained from Dr. Gómez-Pompa's curriculum vitae.

—Mary Ellen Snodgrass

Additional topics

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