My name is Sam Zwicker, and I am a PhD student at the UW in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) researching ecology, conservation, and agroforestry. I received my masters in forest sciences in 2015 specializing in land use change and wildlife conservation in frontier forests. In addition to teaching environmental science courses at the UW, I am President the Forestry Honor Society, a term member of the renowned Explorers Club, co-founder and President of sustainable agroforestry non-profit Hoja Nueva, and winner of the UW's College of the Environment Graduate Dean's Medalist Award as well as the SEFS Graduate Student of the Year Award (2015).
I am fascinated by the interdependence exhibited by organisms within diverse ecosystems and hope to preserve the integrity of these systems by bridging the human-environment interface and facilitating a world where humans can coexist with wildlife, especially top predators. My fieldwork is based in the Amazon rainforest along the Las Piedras River in Peru, where I am assessing the effects of land use change on felids and their prey using in-situ observation, surveys, and camera trapping. Our team contributes critical data for ocelot and jaguar conservation by working in the unprotected, intact rainforests of Peru.
Two years ago, Melanie Desch and I joined forces with remote communities to help improve their livelihoods by addressing food insecurity and large-scale agricultural practices that deplete soils. We bought land, built a camp, planted a food forest, and began growing cacao- the main crop in this region of Peru- by the thousands. With backgrounds in sustainability, social sciences, and conservation, and the help of local communities, we developed an Experimental Center that has changed the fate of the Piedras. Through research, applied conservation efforts, and the inclusion of local community perspectives, my colleagues and I are working to protect the people, flora, and fauna of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Visit our website (hojanueva.org), or message me for more information and to get involved!
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