Meet the Curator

Part of the Water: H2O = Life exhibition.

Interview with Eleanor Sterling

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Dr. Eleanor J. Sterling Director, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation; and Curator, Water: H2O = Life


Eleanor J. Sterling is the Chief Conservation Scientist at the Museum's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. Her primary research is focused on behavioral ecology, particularly of endangered animals, turtles and tortoises, and on biogeography and its application to conservation. She also focuses on tools for elucidating spatially explicit information on species and assemblages of species. At AMNH she has engaged in systems-level research on endangered species and high biodiversity ecosystems, and on the intersection between biodiversity, culture, and languages and the factors influencing resilience in biocultural approaches to conservation. A scientist with interdisciplinary training in biological and social sciences, Dr. Sterling has performed field research in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and currently co-leads genetic, epidemiological, and behavioral ecology research on the seat turtles of Palmyra Atoll, the Solomon Islands, and the broader Pacific. She is also considered a world authority on the aye-aye, a nocturnal lemur found in Madagascar. She joined the Museum in 1996 and in 1998 spearheaded the establishment of the CBC's Network of Conservation Educators (NCEP), an international group that develops sound biodiversity conservation practice by improving conservation training at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level. Since 1997, she has also served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University. Dr. Sterling received her B.A. in psychobiology from Yale College in 1983 and her Ph.D. in forestry and environmental studies and anthropology from Yale University in 1993. She has curated five exhibits at AMNH.