National Geographic explorer, anthropologist, and conservationist, Mireya Mayor, is joining the Amazon Conservation Team to help communicate news of vital projects and expand global awareness about the plight of the Amazon region, the nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving South American rainforests said in a news statement today.
“Dr. Mayor will be lending her expertise, as both scientist and communicator, to advance ACT’s social and media outreach, helping to ensure the future of the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous people,” said the Arlington, Virginia-based organization.
“I’ve watched ACT achieve incredible results and help protect rainforests and indigenous cultures in an effective and cost-effective way that no other organization has been able to accomplish,” Mayor said. “As ACT celebrates it 20th year anniversary, it is high time more people were aware of this amazing organization and helped support its mission.”
Mayor is a primatologist, anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer. She has more than a decade of scientific fieldwork and conservation related research to her name and is credited with the discovery of the world’s smallest primate while exploring Madagascar. This discovery and Mayor’s research enabled her to persuade the Prime Minister of Madagascar to create a new national park.
“ I can think of no one with a better skill set to help us achieve our admittedly lofty goals, said Mark Plotkin, President and co-founder of the Amazon Conservation Team. “Mireya has a unique background as a biologist and bicultural American who has carried out successful field work in some of the planet’s most challenging locales: the forests and rainforests of the Virunga volcanoes in east Africa, the island of Madagascar, and the northeast Amazon. Furthermore, she has impeccable scientific and media credentials and a stellar track record as an inspirational communicator.”
Mayor’s scientific career began studying monkeys in the tropical forests of Guyana, where, as a young undergraduate, she lived in a canoe while carrying out research for two years.
“The jungles of South America are where I first realized the enormous need for us to protect these extraordinary places and the people who live in them. I am thrilled to be able to bring my efforts back to help the most important part of the whole region…the Amazon basin,” she said.
“Female Indiana Jones”
Mayor also has an impressive pedigree in the world of media, communication and entertainment.
Often hailed in the media as the “Female Indiana Jones,” Mayor has appreciated the importance of the media and communication in delivering vital messages and advancing important causes since her early days as an NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins.
An NSF Fellow and Fulbright Scholar, Mayor has authored more than a dozen research papers. She was the first female wildlife correspondent for National Geographic, in 1999, launched her own show on Nat Geo Wild, “Wild Nights with Mireya Mayor,” and appeared in numerous documentaries and series, including the “Expedition Africa” series where she hiked the 1,000-mile trail once tread by Henry Stanley and David Livingstone. She has been nominated twice for an Emmy.
The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Mayor describes in her best-selling book Pink Boots and a Machete how the film “Gorillas in the Mist” changed the course of her life and turned her into a passionate conservationist.
Mayor holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami where she graduated with honors, and a doctorate degree from Stony Brook University. Throughout her academic career, Mayor has remained a constant presence in the media and on lecture series tours, raising awareness on the plight of animals and places on the brink of extinction. Most recently Mayor served as Director of Missions Programs at Stony Brook University’s Center ValBio, an organization focused on conservation in Madagascar.
“We are delighted to have a scientist with such sterling credentials join our Team,” said Plotkin. “Mayor’s proven abilities as a field biologist and a communicator are an almost unique combination.”
The Amazon region is home to unique wildlife and hundreds of indigenous groups, many of who still serve as repositories of thousands of years of ancestral knowledge about their unique environment, and who depend on this ecosystem to maintain their way of life, Mayor noted.
“My love affair with the rain forest began deep in the Amazonian jungles more than a decade ago. I am excited to be going back to my roots and to do my part in trying to preserve some of the most diverse terrestrial ecosystem on the planet. At a time when forest, species and cultures are being lost at unfathomable rate, I couldn’t be more proud or honored to be a part of the Amazon Conservation Team’s innovative work and achievements, and to help spread their message.”
Follow Mireya Mayor
David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.
Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.