Field Museum's Division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation Creates Fellows Program
For Immediate Release
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Field Museum's Division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation Creates Fellows Program. ECCo names five Fellows to foster active collaborations with other museums, institutions.
CHICAGO - 2007 - The Field Museum's Division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo) announces a new Fellows program. The fellowship has been created to foster active collaborations with other institutions. It will also recognize the contributions of individuals who work closely with ECCo staff on projects that support the mission of this division: conservation and cultural understanding both in the United States and Latin America.
"ECCo puts rigorous science into immediate action that creates and supports lasting conservation," says Debra Moskovits, Director of ECCo and Senior Vice President of The Field Museum. "By appointing these partners as Fellows, we will help to empower them to be more effective. At the same time, they will enhance our efforts on behalf of the environment. Together we will be able to accomplish more than ever."
ECCo was established in 2004 to unite and strengthen The Museum's Environmental and Conservation Programs (ECP) and Center for Cultural Understanding and Change (CCUC). It plans to name more Fellows in the future.
The first five Fellows, each appointed for a five-year term, are: Michael Cepek (Anthropology Department, University of Texas-San Antonio), Clark Erickson (Anthropology Department, University of Pennsylvania), Gabriela Nuñez (Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago), Melinda Pruett-Jones (Executive Director, Chicago Wilderness), and Debra Shore (Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago). These Fellows are collaborating with ECCo staff through programs in Ecuador, Peru, and across the Chicago region.
Debra Shore was elected Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in November 2006 and is currently serving a four-year term in that office. Her successful campaign for office focused on important water resource conservation messages that resonated with the public.
Prior to public service, Shore served the Chicago Wilderness (CW) conservation consortium as Editor of the award-winning Chicago Wilderness Magazine for nine years and as CW director of development for four years.
In her role as an ECCo Fellow, Shore will work with The Field Museum to raise public awareness of issues related to Lake Michigan's health. Together, The Field Museum and the City of Chicago can work to help the people of this region know what they can do to conserve and protect this unparalleled freshwater resource.
"Those of us who live in the Chicago metropolitan region are exceedingly fortunate to have access to, and to benefit from, one of the world's Great Lakes," Shore says. "Collectively, the Great Lakes hold close to twenty percent of the world's fresh surface water. One of our challenges is to learn to live like misers in a land of plenty — and to begin to treat rainwater as a precious resource rather than a problem.
"The Field Museum is wonderfully positioned, right along the shores of the lake, to demonstrate conservation techniques and to lead the way in educating the public," she adds. Shore holds a bachelor's degree from Goucher College and master's degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Columbia College.
Melinda Pruett-Jones is the Executive Director of Chicago Wilderness, an alliance of more than 200 organizations that includes The Field Museum. Together, these organizations work through Chicago Wilderness to study, restore, and manage the rich natural areas of the Chicago region and to enrich local residents' quality of life.
Pruett-Jones has 27 years of experience in research, management, and administration gained while working for organizations committed to conservation, science education, and academic excellence—including, at one point, The Field Museum. In her role as an ECCo Fellow, Pruett-Jones will work with The Field Museum to implement CW's Leave No Child Inside campaign based in an emerging national movement that recognizes the growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating the importance of direct contact with the outdoors to healthy childhood development.
The Leave No Child Inside campaign seeks to raise public awareness about these issues among parents, teachers, and other childcare givers. Field Museum staff members are working closely with Pruett-Jones, the City of Chicago, and other partners within Chicago Wilderness to develop and implement these programs. There will be a focus on underserved communities across the region and on building partnerships with healthcare organizations, daycare associations, and communities of faith.
"Leave No Child Inside is arguably the most important campaign Chicago Wilderness has ever undertaken," says Pruett-Jones. "I'm thrilled to be working with staff at The Field Museum who are experts not only in conservation, but in culture change and social justice. The ECCo fellowship will foster ever stronger partnerships to execute this most exciting program for the benefit of all who live here — the people and the wild things. "
Pruett-Jones holds a master's degree in zoology from Brigham Young University and a bachelor's degree in psychology/animal behavior from the University of Washington.
Dr. Michael Cepek
Dr. Michael Cepek has conducted research with indigenous Cofán people in eastern Ecuador for more than a decade. Recent collaborations with The Field Museum include work with the Cofán Survival Fund on the protection of their ancestral lands. Together, Cepek and ECCo staff undertook a complementary effort to map the history of the Cofán settlements, sacred sites, and patterns of resource use. A recent field expedition to map this historical landscape included training a group of young Cofán as field assistants. The expedition mapped more than 160 sites with Cofán place names and cultural significance, and trained the Cofán in the group to collect oral histories and use mapping methodology. In his role as an ECCo Fellow, Cepek will continue this work with ECCo.
At the request of the Cofán, The Field Museum has acquired about 100 objects, representing Cofán culture — including ceremonial objects, household items, and agricultural and hunting implements. These comprise the only known collection of Cofán objects in the United States and enrich the Museum's existing collection of objects from related indigenous groups of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Cepek is an Associate Professor at University of Texas, San Antonio's Anthropology Department with a broad background in social and cultural theory and the people, politics, and history of lowland South America.
Dr. Clark Erickson
Dr. Clark Erickson directs a multidisciplinary investigation of traditional agricultural systems of production, land use, and landscapes of pre-Columbian peoples in the Amazonian region of Bolivia. Through this research he has set up collaborative applied archaeological studies with indigenous communities to investigate the agricultural and engineering technologies used by prehispanic farmers in what is now Bolivia.
As an ECCo Fellow, Erickson will continue in his role as an advisor for the historical mapping projects, such as the one recently undertaken with the Cofán survival fund. Erickson serves as an advisor on Global Information Systems and mapping technologies to The Field Museum staff working to map the history of the Cofán settlements, sacred sites, and patterns of resource use. A recent field expedition to map this historical landscape included training a group of young Cofán as field assistants. The expedition mapped more than 160 sites with Cofán place names and cultural significance, while Erickson assisted with the efforts to train the Cofán in the group to collect oral histories and use mapping methodology.
Erickson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania and an Associate Curator in the American Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. His primary research is on field agriculture, a form of indigenous crop production practiced by farmers in the highlands and lowlands of South America before the arrival of Europeans. The archaeological remains of these earthworks cover vast areas of seasonally flooded lands of Peru and Bolivia. Raised fields permitted high yield agricultural production in marginal zones by draining wet areas, increasing soil depth, recycling and producing organic matter, and improving local climates
Dr. Gabriela Nunez Iturri
Dr. Gabriela Nunez Iturri is a Fuller Post-Doctoral Fellow with the World Wildlife Fund who has recently completed her PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology. She is investigating the effects that human activities and land use changes have on forest regeneration. She also works to examine the effects of disrupting plant-animal interactions.
Nunez has collaborated with ECCo scientists to lead Field Training Courses and Workshops on the methodologies used for rapid assessments of biodiversity as well as participating in the Rapid Biological Inventory of the headwaters of the Nanay-Mazán-Arabela. She has also worked with The Field Museum on the organization of the Rapid Reference Collections of Neotropical Plants, the preparation of Rapid Color Guides and the dissemination of Herbarium Specimens.
In her role as a Fellow, Nunez will continue to collaborate with The Field Museum to transform museum collections into tools for the conservation of biologically diverse forests in South America.