Matt Larsen Outlines STRI Priorities
STRI Panama

Matt Larsen comes to STRI from the U.S. Geological Survey, where he was Associate Director for Climate and Land-Use Change. Shown here reading a gauge on the Potomac River.

Matt Larsen, STRI’s new director, spoke to scientists and students after Tuesday’s Tupper Seminar, outlining several of his goals as he officially assumes his role in Panama.

His first two priorities underscore the importance of supporting first-class tropical science.

Larsen will continue to strengthen STRI communication with ‘The Castle,’ the 1855 landmark building in Washington, D.C. synonymous with Smithsonian Institution’s central administration. He began this process during his first month on the job with the Smithsonian through numerous meetings and conversations with Smithsonian leadership and staff in and around Washington.

Before travelling to Panama, Larsen also met with private supporters of STRI--foundations and individual donors--as well as with members and staff of the United States Congress, the institute’s primary conduit for funding. His goal there is to increase support for science by boosting understanding and enthusiasm for STRI’s work.

Now that he has arrived in Panama, Larsen will work closely with the country’s recently elected administration. “I intend to strengthen and enhance existing interactions between STRI and ministries of the new Panamanian government,” he said. “The scientific knowledge and training STRI offers are important resources as Panama’s national economy continues to grow. I would like STRI to be a fully engaged, constructive partner in this country.”

To do so, Larsen will strengthen and expand STRI’s collaboration with Panama’s universities, academic sector and NGOs. “As an international scientific institution based in the United States, we must work extra-hard to assure the best possible interaction and integration with the Panamanian scientific community. This contributes not only to stronger science at STRI, but also to better relations with local institutions, communities, and individuals at every level.”

Larsen will join scientists and staff to enhance and expand communication of the broad range of research and science education conducted at STRI. “I will strive to be the best STRI representative and ambassador as possible in Panama, the U.S. and internationally and I will need all of you to help me achieve this,” said Larsen. “We must continually position STRI science at the forefront as we face the many environmental challenges ahead, by being scientific leaders in the diverse disciplines we represent.”

Larsen will continue to improve STRI’s internal structure to provide the best research platform possible for researchers from around the world.

In conclusion Larsen stated “Everywhere I look at STRI, I see a passion for our mission. When I talk with you, I see real enthusiasm for what we do, for our long history of achieving remarkable scientific breakthroughs, educating the scientists of tomorrow, and exposing ordinary citizens to the value and importance of learning more about tropical biodiversity and sustaining a biodiverse planet.”

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