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WCS president inducted into 235th class of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Wildlife Conservation Society


IMAGE: Cristián Samper adds his name to the Book of Members, as part of the American Academy's 2015 Induction Ceremony view more

Credit: Courtesy of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

CAMBRIDGE, MA | October 20, 2015 - For the 235th time, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has inducted its newest class of members. One of the nation's oldest learned societies and independent research centers, the Academy includes among this year's 147 inductees prominent scientists, artists, literary figures, and leaders of academic, business, philanthropic, and cultural institutions from across the United States and internationally.

Dr. Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, was among those inducted into this newest class of American Academy members.

Samper is a Colombian-American tropical biologist and an international authority on conservation biology and environmental policy.

Since 2012, Samper has served as President and CEO of WCS. Previously, Samper was the Director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, the world's largest natural history collection, from 2003 to 2012; and served as Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian in 2007 and 2008, the first Latin American to hold the position.

At WCS, Samper oversees the world's largest collection of urban parks -- including the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo; and a global conservation program in more than 60 nations and in all the world's oceans. Under Samper's leadership, WCS is harnessing its global field program and its zoos and aquarium with partnerships from around the globe to tackle some of our world's most pressing conservation challenges in the seas and on land.

In Colombia, Samper collaborated in the creation of the Colombian Ministry of Environment in 1993 and was successful in conceiving the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, a public funded research institute of which he became its first Director from 1995 to 2001. In 1999, he was appointed Chairman of the Subsidiary Body of Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, a post he held until 2001. Last year, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos presented Samper with the prestigious Order of San Carlos for his outstanding contributions to conservation biology and environmental policy. He has also served as Deputy Director and staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Other inductees included Microsoft Distinguished Scientist Susan Dumais; international biochemist and geneticist Dr. David H. MacLennan; the Honorable Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California; the Honorable David S. Tatel, United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit; and award-winning author Annie Proulx.

Members of the 2015 class include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Wolf Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts, the National Humanities Medal, and the National Book Award; a knighthood in the French Legion of Honor; MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellowships; and Academy, Emmy, Grammy, Screen Actors Guild, and Tony Awards.

"This weekend, as it has 234 times before, the Academy welcomes into its membership a group of leaders from across the nation and the world," said Don Randel, Chair of the Academy's Board of Directors. "We are honored to include these inductees in our Book of Members. They have demonstrated not only excellence in their fields, but also a commitment to serving society through their accomplishments."

"As members, these new inductees will carry on a long tradition of collaborating across disciplines on Academy research projects and other initiatives," Academy President Jonathan Fanton added. "We welcome the participation by each new member in this work, which is intended, above all, to advance the common good."

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country's oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. In its work, the Academy focuses on higher education, the humanities, and the arts; science and technology policy; global security and energy; and American institutions and the public good.

Academy research has resulted in reports like The Heart of the Matter and Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream. Projects under the guidance of the Academy's Committee on International Security Studies address the impact of energy and security technologies on global prospects for peace and prosperity. All of the Academy's work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.


WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world's oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.


WCS - MARY DIXON: (1-347-840-1242;


WCS President and CEO Dr. Cristián Samper Inducted into 235th Class of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

PHOTO: Cristián Samper adds his name to the Book of Members, as part of the American Academy's 2015 Induction Ceremony Credit: Courtesy of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

WCS Newsroom


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