Alejandra Echeverri

Killam Predoctoral Scholarship Recipient

University of British Columbia

The current rates of biodiversity loss scare me and keep me motivated to work everyday.

Alejandra’s research focuses on understanding human-bird interactions in agro-ecological systems. She studies how human actions to the environment affect bird communities and compares the diversity of birds in forests and in farms. Alejandra also studies the cultural values associated with birds, in particular which birds people like and why. What makes birds so alluring for birders? What do farmers think about birds? What are the values that people construct with birds and how do they vary across species?

Through her research Alejandra wants to motivate governments to act upon biodiversity issues and hopes to communicate her findings to the Costa Rican government to help them monitor their biodiversity, as well as making recommendations that will ultimately improve bird conservation efforts including birdwatching tourism.

Alejandra edited and co-wrote a training guide called The Lunchbox, with five colleagues. Not only does it sit in the office of the Norwegian Prime Minister, it has also been distributed in 60 countries, and has inspired the creation of six additional books on other topics, and inspired many young people across the world to act upon environmental and sustainability issues.

When not working or researching at the University of British Columbia, Alejandra can be found playing volleyball or soccer, going dancing with friends or participating in trivia nights at local pubs. She also takes advantage of local art galleries to visit exhibits.

Being named a Killam Laureate is a great honour and source of motivation as it allows Alejandra to focus exclusively on her studies.  With Killam funding she is able to travel to Costa Rica, for her fieldwork, as well as providing additional visibility by enabling her to attend conferences and presenting her research.

There is nothing more breathtaking than being in a tropical forest and watching the monkeys move across the trees, or hearing the birds sing, or watching them doing their courtship displays. These forests are my eternal source of inspiration. My dream is to protect these forests for birds and for people.


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