Eleanor Sterling

Photo of Eleanor Sterling

As Director of the Museum's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC), Dr. Eleanor Sterling oversees strategic planning and project development, leads fundraising efforts, and manages a multidisciplinary staff of over 25. In her capacity as a conservation biologist, Eleanor studies biodiversity and the history of land use in Vietnam, leading to the publication in 2006 of Vietnam: A Natural History, co-authored with two colleagues at the CBC and published by Yale University Press. She is also the chair of the Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium and is working to document biodiversity on this remote atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

She is especially interested in determining population densities and habitat use by sea turtles on the atoll to better plan for the conservation of turtle habitats and the overall management of the atoll. In 2000, Eleanor spearheaded the establishment of the CBC's Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners, which works to create and implement educational materials and teaching resources for biodiversity conservation at undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels around the world.

Eleanor has more than 20 years of field research experience in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where she conducted surveys and censuses, as well as behavioral, ecological, and genetic studies of primates, whales, and other mammals. She is considered a world authority on the aye-aye, a nocturnal lemur found in Madagascar. Since 1997, Eleanor has been an adjunct professor at Columbia University, where she now serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology. Eleanor sits on the Board of Governors of the Society for Conservation Biology, and is a Board member of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies at Yale University. Eleanor received a B.A. from Yale College in 1983 and M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology and forestry and environmental studies from Yale University in 1993. She joined the Museum in 1996 as the CBC's Program Director and was named Director of the CBC in 2000.