March 21, 2012

Mexican President Honors Biodiversity Institute Scientist

Felipe Calderon, president of Mexico, commended the biodiversity research and leadership of a University of Kansas scientist and five other international researchers at a formal ceremony in Mexico on March 15.

Jorge Soberon, senior research scientist at the KU Biodiversity Institute and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, spoke on behalf of all the awardees at the ceremony held in the gardens of the president's residence.

Jorge Soberon, was commended by President Felipe Calderon.


From 1992 to 2005, Soberon was the executive secretary of CONABIO, the National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity of Mexico. Established in 1992, the commission is dedicated to increasing the knowledge of Mexico's biodiversity as well as its conservation and sustainable use.  At CONABIO, Soberon was in charge of programs to inventory the biodiversity of Mexico,  digitize biodiversity collections and develop bioinformatics tools to analyze it. At KU, he directs the Biodiversity Modeling and Policy research laboratory of the KU Biodiversity Institute.

In addition to Soberon, Calderon acknowledged the services of Arturo Gomez-Pompa, distinguished professor at the University of California at Riverside; Gonzalo Halffter and Jerzy Rzedowsky, both of the Institute of Ecology, in Xalapa, Mexico; Peter Raven, member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States and Director Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden and Francisco Takaki, of the Mexican National Institute of Geography and Statstics

Several prominent American and Mexican biologists, researchers and leaders attended the ceremony, among them Paul and Anne Ehrlich of Stanford University; Rita Colwell, former President of the National Academy of Sciences; Thomas Lovejoy of the Heinz Foundation; Russell Smith of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Cristian Samper, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, among several others. The dean of the National University of Mexico, the Director of CONACyT, the Mexican version of National Science Foundation, and many distinguished Mexican scientists also attended.