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Dr. Rebecca Smith - Principle Instructor

Becca obtained her undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh, her Masters of Research in Primate Biology, Behaviour and Conservation at Roehampton University and her PhD in Conservation Science with the University of Aberdeen. She has 14 years experience working with non-human primates in Namibia, Panama and Puerto Rico. She studied the hooded capuchins of the Paraguayan Atlantic Forest for nine years and has published several papers on their behaviour. She has presented her research at conferences across the globe. She is a National Geographic Explorer and received the Lawrence Jacobsen Education Development Award from the International Primatological Society twice and the Cyril Rosen Award from the Primate Society of Great Britain. She is currently the Executive Director of Para La Tierra and is working towards implementing a program of economically beneficial reforestation in the Atlantic Forest region.

Sam Pottie - Research Supervisor

Sam obtained his BSc in agro- and biotechnology from Ghent University College, and his MSc in primate conservation from Oxford Brookes University. For his bachelor’s thesis he examined the variation and relative abundancy of nocturnal mammals in South Africa. His master’s thesis consisted of modelling the distribution, connectivity and protection of the brown-headed spider monkey. He has worked as a field researcher in the Peruvian Amazon, where he led research projects on reintroduced spider monkeys and geophagy in mammals. In 2021, he supervised students with the fieldwork component of their theses in the cloud forests of Colombia and the lowland rainforests of Peru. Sam supervises intern research in Pilar and studies the unusual urban howler monkeys. 

Jorge Damián Ayala Santacruz - Education Director

Jorge grew up in a rural village in Eastern Paraguay. He joined Para La Tierra in 2011 as a forest guard, after completing his forest guard training with Fundación Moisés Bertoni in Reserva Natural del Bosque Mbaracayu. He was a vital link to the local communities around Laguna Blanca, and was an integral part of engagement programs, including coordinating the Female Empowerment Project from 2012-2014. He completed a course in environmental education through Proyecto Ambiental and learnt English with the Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano. In 2016 he travelled to Mexico for training in participatory environmental education with HUNAB, and he co-founded and runs PLT’s Eco-Leadership for Sustainable Development Program. In 2019 Jorge was awarded the Charles Southwick Conservation Education Commitment Award from the International Primatological Society. 

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