Sofia Montalvo
Three Cairns Scholars

Sofi Montalvo Yánez, Ecuador

Goal: Generate and communicate science to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity

Ecuador, where Sofía Montalvo is from, is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. Climate change, however, is exerting intense pressure on many of the country’s ecosystems. Forest habitats are disappearing due to local extractive economies. 

“Ecuador has many excellent people and a lot of potential, but we need someone to offer encouragement and support to get different environmental projects going,” Montalvo says. “I want to be that person.”

In the Master of Environmental Science (MESc) degree program, Montalvo is focusing on the science of tropical forest ecology and strategies for effectively communicating this science to different stakeholders, from businesses to NGOs to Indigenous communities. While working at Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park research station, Montalvo saw firsthand how critical it is to communicate effectively about the impacts of climate change and diversity loss. One of the most biodiverse places on Earth, Yasuní also contains an estimated 1.7 billion barrels of crude oil within its borders and was opened to drilling in 2016. Better communication about the region’s ecology, she believes, could help protect it.

“I wish to serve as a liaison between science and other fields, and I want to generate and communicate science to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity,” Montalvo says. “I am confident that YSE, where I’ve met and interacted with people from around the world, and where I’ve learned new perspectives and approaches to meeting environmental challenges, will give me the resources and tools I need to build a successful career.”

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