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Renowned Environmental Scientist from Panama to Speak at U.Va.

March 19, 2009 — Stanley Heckadon Moreno, a Panamanian researcher who works for sustainable development that will lift people out of poverty, will speak March 23 at the University Virginia.

Federico A. Humbert, Panama's ambassador to the U.S., is expected to attend the talk and make introductory remarks. The event, to be held from 5 to 6 p.m. in room 108 of Clark Hall, is free and open to the public

Vivian Thomson, assistant professor in both the environmental sciences and politics departments, is director of U.Va.'s Panama Initiative, which began in 2007. It's a research and teaching collaboration between the University and the City of Knowledge, a Panamanian institution that serves as a gateway to the country's academic, governmental and business communities.

Thomson and her colleagues, environmental sciences professor Jay Zieman and Dr. Richard Guerrant, director of the Center for Global Health in the School of Medicine, have been working with counterparts in Panama on sustainable development and health and environmental issues.

Panama's historic ties with the United States make it an especially complex yet accessible location for Americans who want to understand or help shape sustainable development.
Thomson said Moreno's visit to U.Va. is significant because of his renown in Panama.

"He is the first stop for any questions about sustainable development in Panama," she said. "He's a forceful advocate for Panama's ecosystem. He's an outspoken proponent of lifting up the poorest of the poor, and is an effective communicator about the complex relationship between the ecosystem and development in Panama."

Moreno's goal, she said, is to ensure "indigenous and poor peoples benefit from economic development."

In addition to his public talk, he will lead Thomson's senior seminar in environmental thought and practice on Tuesday.

Moreno is director of communications and public programs and coordinator at the Galeta Point Marine Laboratory in Colón , Panama. The lab is an arm of the Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute. His current research focuses on peasant colonization of tropical forests.

Thomson noted that Moreno's topic, "Panama: The Land, The People, The Canal," will allow him a good deal of latitude in what he talks about. "But he's an extraordinary communicator, both in Spanish and English," she said. "He takes complicated issues and finds ways of talking about them so they're accessible to everyone."

For information, contact Thomson at vet4y@virginia.edu.

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