Ana Luz Porzecanski

Director, Center for Biodiversity & Conservation


Research Interests

Dr. Ana Luz Porzecanski grew up in Uruguay and Brazil as part of a family of European immigrants that nurtured a love of nature and culture, deep curiosity about the workings of the planet and society, and a commitment to social justice. She has a biology degree from the Universidad de la República in Uruguay, and graduate degrees in Environmental Policy, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Columbia University in New York City, where she lives with her husband and daughters. Ana has over 20 years of experience in scientific research and conservation and has focused on understanding biodiversity and how to sustain it effectively for the future through evidence-based management and effective capacity development. She seeks to work across sectors, communicate across differences, and catalyze collective action for systemic change. As Center director Ana oversees strategic planning, project development, fundraising, and a multidisciplinary staff leading conservation research and capacity development initiatives around the world.

Ana is also passionate about education and science communication; she has taught courses on conservation biology, evolution, and global sustainability, and led research on how to develop student critical and systems thinking. In 2016 she co-curated ¡Cuba!, a binational, bilingual traveling museum exhibition on Cuba’s nature and culture, and the largest exhibition of its kind ever presented in the United States. She recharges by spending time with family, in nature, and making and enjoying food, art, and music.


[Selected Publications]


  • Porzecanski, A.L., A. Bravo, M. Groom, L. Davalos, N. Bynum, B. Abraham, J. Cigliano, C. Griffiths, D. Stokes, M. Cawthorn, D. Fernandez, L. Freeman, T. Leslie, T. Theodose, D. Vogler, and E.J. Sterling. 2021. Using Case Studies to Improve the Critical Thinking Skills of Undergraduate Conservation Biology Students. Case Studies in the Environment 5(1):1536396. DOI:
  • Cunha Almeida, F., A.L. Porzecanski, J.L. Cracraft, and S.B. Bertelli. 2021. The Evolution of Tinamous (Palaeognathae: Tinamidae) in Light of Molecular and Combined Analyses. The Linnean Society of London. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. p. 1-19. DOI:
  • DeSalle, R., J. Zichello, P. Gupta, M. Scott, B. Desai, R. Cohen, L. Halderman, S. Perkins, A.L. Porzecanski, P.J. Planet, Y. Wyner, M. Blaser, R. Burk, J. Diamond, R. Kennett, and J. Borland. 2021. A Natural History Museum Visitor Survey of Perception, Attitude and Knowledge (PAK) of Microbes and Antibiotics. PLoS One 16(9):e0257085. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0257085. 
  • Sterling, E.J., A. Sigouin, E. Betley, J. Zavaleta Cheek, J.N. Solomon, K. Landrigan, A.L. Porzecanski, N. Bynum, B.  Cadena, K.R. Clements, S.H. Cheng, R. Finchum, M. Geresy, A. Gomez, M. Groom, T.A.C. Loffeld, D.C. Miller, D. Rakotobe, M. Rao, R. Roberts, X.A. Shinbrot, E. Willigan, and M.S. Jones. 2021. The State of Capacity Development Evaluation in Conservation and Natural Resource Management. Oryx—The International Journal of Conservation. 21 Dec 2021. 1-12. DOI:
  • Bruyere, B., N. Bynum, J. Copsey, A.L. Porzecanski, and E.J. Sterling, July 2020. Conservation Leadership Capacity Building: a Landscape Study, Summary of Key findings. Available at
  • Sterling, E.J., C. Filardi, A. Toomey, A. Sigouin, E. Betley, N. Gazit, J. Newell, S. Albert, D. Alvira,  N. Bergamini,  M.E. Blair, D. Boseto, K. Burrows, N. Bynum, S. Caillon, J.E. Caselle, J. Claudet, G. Cullman, R. Dacks, P.B. Eyzaguirre, S. Gray, J. Herrera, P. Kenilorea, K. Kinney,  N. Kurashima, S. Macey, C. Malone, S. Mauli, J. McCarter, H. McMillen, P. Pascua, P. Pikacha, A.L. Porzecanski, P. de Robert, M. Salpeteur, M. Sirikolo, M.H. Stege, K. Stege, T. Ticktin, R. Vave, A. Wali, P. West, K.B. Winter, and S.D. Jupiter. 2017. Biocultural approaches to well-being and sustainability indicators across scales. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1:1798-1806. DOI:
  • Sterling, E.J., E. Betley, A. Sigouin, A. Gomez, A. Toomey, G. Cullman, C. Malone, A. Pekor, F. Arengo, M. Blair, C. Filardi, K. Landrigan, and A.L. Porzecanski. 2017. Assessing the evidence for stakeholder engagement in biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation 209:159-171. DOI:
  • Sterling, E.J., A. Bravo, A.L. Porzecanski, N. Bynum, R. Burks, J. Linder, T.A. Langen, D.S. Fernandez, and D. Ruby. 2016. Think before (and after) you speak: Practice and self-reflection build student confidence and bolster performance in oral communication skills. Journal of College Science Teaching 45(6):87-99.
  • Bravo, A., A.L. Porzecanski, E.J. Sterling, N. Bynum, M. Cawthorn, D. Fernandez, L. Freeman, S. Ketcham, T. Leslie, J. Mull, and D. Vogler. 2016. Teaching for higher levels of thinking: developing quantitative and analytical skills in environmental science courses. Ecosphere 7(4):1-20. DOI:
  • Sterling, E.J., A. Gomez, and A.L. Porzecanski. 2010. A systemic view of biodiversity and its conservation: processes, interrelationships, and human culture. Bioessays 32:1090-1098.
  • Dávalos, L.M. and A.L. Porzecanski. 2009. Accounting for molecular stochasticity in systematic revisions: Species limits and phylogeny of Paroaria. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53:234–248.
  • E. Jahn, A.M. Saavedra, R. Ian Horn, R.C. Dobbs, A.L. Porzecanski, and J.J. Weicker. 2008. A comparison of gallery and dry forest avian communities in the Gran Chaco of Bolivia. Ornitología Neotropical 19(2):1-14. 
  • M. Mendez, A. Gómez, N. Bynum, R. Medellín, A.L. Porzecanski, and E. Sterling. 2007. Conservation education in Latin America: availability of formal academic programs in conservation biology. Conservation Biology 21(6):1399-1403.
  • Porzecanski, A.L., N. Bynum, J.L. Mena, and R.A. Medellín. 2006. La Red de Educadores y Profesionales de la Conservación (REPC): la implementación de un proyecto internacional de educación superior en México. Contributed chapter in A. Barahona and L. Almeida, editors. Educación para la Conservación. Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México.
  • Sterling, E., N. Bynum, J.P. Gibbs, and A.L. Porzecanski. 2005. Construyendo capacidades para la conservación de la biodiversidad en países tropicales: la Red de Educadores y Profesionales de la Conservación (REPC). Ambiente y Desarrollo 21(2):40-46.
  • Brooks, D.M., A.L. Porzecanski , J.J. Weicker, R.A. Honig, A.M. Saavedra, and M. Herrera. 2005. A preliminary assessment of avifauna of the Bolivian Chiquitano and Cerrado. Ornitología Neotropical 16:85-99. 
  • Porzecanski, A.L. and J. Cracraft. 2005. Cladistic Analysis of Distributions and Endemism (CADE): using raw distributions of birds to unravel the biogeography of the South American aridlands. Journal of Biogeography 32(2):261-275.
  • Bertelli, S. and A.L. Porzecanski. 2004. Tinamou (Tinamidae) systematics: a preliminary combined analysis of morphology and molecules. Ornitología Neotropical 15(Suppl.):293-299.