History


Elisabeth K.V. Kalko, STRI staff scientist and head of the Institute of Experimental Ecology at the University of Ulm in Germany, died in her sleep on Monday, September 26 during a visit to the Kilimanjaro project of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in Tanzania. Eli's sudden death was completely unexpected as everything seemed to be fine the evening before. The cause of her death is still unknown. She is survived by parents Jürgen and Rosemarie Kalko, her brother Joachim and partner professor Marco Tschapka, all residing in Germany.

Kalko obtained a first degree in biology from the Universität Tübingen in Germany, followed by a doctorate in 1991. She held a NATO post-doc at SI´s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, and STRI. She worked on the DFG programs on tropical diversity and Neotropical bats, and a Heisenberg postdoc in Tübingen.

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At STRI, Kalko joined as research associate, and in 1999, she was appointed staff scientist. Since 2000, she held a joint appointment as director and full professor at the Institute of Experimental Ecology at the University of Ulm in Germany. She was also research associate with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Since then she published about 100 articles with STRI, and brought a great number of students to do bat research on Barro Colorado and other sites of the country. In 2006 Kalko was awarded for best university teaching in natural sciences (Landeslehrpreis) in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The award was in part granted as a recognition for her research conducted with her students at STRI.

Kalko was a member of the German National Committee on Global Change Research (2002-2011), and was elected for life to the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences (2006). From 2005-2011, she served as vice-president of the Society of Tropical Ecology, and from 2008 on she was a member of the Senate Commission on Biodiversity of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The same year, Kalko became head elect of Diversitas Germany. As editor-in-chief of the international tropical ecology journal Ecotropica, she strengthened the journal's profile considerably. During the early 2000's, she was one of the most prominent experts in the areas of bat community ecology, echolocation and bat behavior.

In his message to the STRI community, director Eldredge Bermingham expressed deep regrets for losing “A close friend and one of the most passionate, intelligent and productive scientists in our community and among bat researchers worldwide...” Her study areas covered temperate zones, particularly Europe, and the tropics, mainly Central- and South America (Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru) and Africa (Tanzania, Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana.)

STRI will hold a memorial event in the near future. If you wish, send your comments to calderom@si.edu

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