by Larry Smith
Not one, not two, but three celebrity scientists will make special appearances in Nassau next week.
Dr David Campbell, Dr Sylvia Earle and Glenn Olsen will deliver keynotes at the Bahamas Natural History Conference hosted by the College of The Bahamas and the Bahamas National Trust March 3-7.
Since 1991 Campbell has been a professor of biology, chair of environmental studies and Henry R. Luce Professor in Nations and the Global Environment at Grinnell College, Iowa. Campbell spent part of his childhood on Eleuthera. He has a graduate degree in biology from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Many will remember him as the executive director of the Bahamas National Trust from 1974 to 1977. His career in the Bahamas accumulated in the publication of The Ephemeral Islands - the first natural history of the archipelago to be published since the 1800s.
Campbell has conducted field research in Antarctica, Africa, Asia and Amazonia and has written several award-winning books about his experiences.
Dr Sylvia Earle is an American oceanographer who, since 1998, has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence. She obtained her graduate degrees from Duke University in North Carolina.
In the 1980s she conducted trials in a deep sea submersible off Lee Stocking Island in the Exumas and was later appointed chief scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
An expert on the impact of oil spills, Earle led several research trips during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 to assess environmental damage caused by Iraq's destruction of Kuwaiti oil wells. She was also called to consult during the Deepwater Horizon well blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
From 1998 to 2002 she led the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, a five-year programme to study the United States National Marine Sanctuary, and In 2009 launched Mission Blue, which aims to establish marine protected areas (dubbed "hope spots") around the globe.
Glenn Olsen is the National Audubon Society’s chair in Bird Conservation and Public Policy. He led efforts that helped rescue the California condor from the brink of extinction, and has spearheaded major wetland restoration and protection projects in the United States. Olson advances international bird conservation by building capacity in both Audubon's programmes as well as collaborating with partner organisations like the BNT.
Local reptile expert and past BNT president Sandra Buckner will also make a presentation on the History of Discovering Reptiles and Amphibians in The Bahamas. And Prime Minister Perry Christie will officially open the conference at an evening reception at the Atlantis Resort on Monday.
The conference will feature 66 presenters on a wide variety of topics. Space is limited.