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Distinguished Ethnobotanist Maria Fadiman to Speak at Willamette University

On Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., distinguished ethnobotanist and professor Dr. Maria Fadiman will explore the human relationship with the environment in two South American communities by examining sustainable agriculture in the Galápagos and the relationship between indigenous tribes and oil companies in the forests of Ecuador.

The discussion, entitled "Igniting Hope in the Galápagos and the Amazon: How Coffee and Shamanic Trees are Balancing Humans and Nature," is free and open to the public. It is part of Willamette University's annual Dempsey Environmental Lecture Series and will be held in Smith Auditorium.

Fadiman will discuss how shade-grown coffee helps forge a more balanced relationship between human inhabitants and the island ecosystem of San Cristóbal in the Galápagos. Residents inspired by recent increases in the price of coffee have turned from fishing to replanting coffee fields. This new economic opportunity could alleviate the pressure on an overfished marine ecosystem while providing a livelihood for island residents without the need to clear more land. 

Fadiman will also discuss the Amazon region of Ecuador, concentrating on oil companies' effects upon local mestizos and indigenous groups of Kichwa, Huoarani and Achuar. She will focus on how these indigenous communities seek to protect both their people and the ecosystems in which they live while dealing with the environmental consequences of oil extraction, including open oil pits.

While not working in Africa, Ecuador or the Galápagos Islands, Fadiman is an Assistant Professor of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University. Fadiman earned her doctorate in geography from the University of Texas at Austin, and, in 2000, she received a grant from the National Science Foundation to begin research in Ecuador. Fadiman has been published in various academic journals, including the "Journal of Latin American Geography" and the "Journal of Economic Botany." In 2006, "National Geographic" named her one of eight Emerging Explorers for her continuing work to resolve issues of deforestation and environmental justice in Ecuador and Africa.

For more information, visit www.willamette.edu/go/dempsey or contact Andrea Foust at (503) 370-6654.