We would love to meet you in person, and welcome you to Paraguay. Before that happens, take a few minutes to get to know us.

 
 Karina Atkinson

Karina Atkinson

Executive Director

Karina obtained her undergraduate degree from University of Glasgow, and Masters from Miami University. She is a Rolex Awards for Enterprise winner (2012), Young Alumnus of the Year (2013, University of Glasgow), Global Conservation Fellow (2015, Miami University) TEDx University of Glasgow Fellow (2016), and Woman of the Year (2017, Valle de Aosta). She is the co-founder of Para La Tierra, running projects and field stations in multiple locations in Paraguay. She has published widely, mostly in the field of herpetology, and is actively involved in science, conservation and education projects. She is categorised as a Level 1 Investigator by PRONII/CONACyT.

 Joseph Sarvary

Joseph Sarvary

Deputy Director

Joe obtained his undergraduate degree in Biology from Tufts University in Massachusetts. He spent a semester abroad, studying in Buenos Aires, where he learned to speak Spanish and was Para La Tierra’s first intern back in 2010. He is a Rufford Foundation Small Grants for Conservation recipient (2012) for his project studying the ‘Ecology of the Endangered White-winged Nightjar’. Joe is also a ‘One Young World’ ambassador (2017) presenting his project ‘Voces de la Naturaleza’ at the global conference in Bogotá. 

 Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith

Primate Project Leader

Becca obtained her undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh and her Masters at Roehampton University. She is now studying towards a PhD in Conservation Science with the University of Aberdeen. She has previously worked with captive and wild primates in Namibia, Panama and Puerto Rico. She studied the hooded capuchins of Reserva Natural Laguna Blanca and has published several papers on their behaviour. She has presented her research at conferences in Asuncion, Chicago and Durham. She is a National Geographic Explorer and received the Lawrence Jacobsen Education Development Award from the International Primatological Society. She is currently continuing the capuchin studies in Procosara and beginning a study of the urban howler monkey population of Pilar.

 
  Jorge Ayala Santacruz

Jorge Ayala Santacruz

Education Coordinator

Jorge grew up in a rural village in Eastern Paraguay. He joined Para La Tierra in 2011 as a forest guard, after completing his forest guard training with Fundación Moisés Bertoni in Reserva Natural del Bosque Mbaracayu. He was a vital link to the local communities around Laguna Blanca, and was an integral part of engagement programs, including coordinating the Female Empowerment Project from 2012-2014. He completed a course in environmental education through Proyecto Ambiental and is currently learning English with the Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano. In 2016 he travelled to Mexico for training in participatory environmental education with HUNAB, and he is now second in command of PLT’s Eco-Leadership for Sustainable Development Program.

 Jeremy Dicken 

Jeremy Dickens

Scientific Director

Jeremey obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa in Zoology and Environmental and Geographical Sciences, and Masters from the Zoology Museum of the University of São Paulo, focused on Avian Taxonomy, Systematics and Biogeography. Having lived and studied for the past six years in South America, he is presently curator of the Coleccion Cientifico de Para La Tierra and a supervisor and active participant in field studies conducted by Para La Tierra in Paraguay.

 Robert Owen

Robert Owen

President

Robert has a B.S. and a Ph.D., both in Zoology, from the University of Oklahoma. His research focuses on systematics and distribution of small mammals, particularly in the Neotropics. He has conducted field work in the US, Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Paraguay. He began work in Paraguay in 1991, and has lived here since 2005. He has published over 70 articles in approximately 35 peer-reviewed journals, and serves as an Associate Editor for Therya and Acta Chiropterologica. He is categorised as a Level 3 Investigator by PRONII/CONACYT.

 
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Leigh McMahon

Museum curator

A zoology graduate from Queen Mary University of London, Leigh began her career as a veterinary nurse working in various hospitals and universities. She always had a passion for the natural world, travelling to see wildlife and photographing it, which led to her decision to embark on a career in conservation. Leigh began her story with Para La Tierra as an intern, focusing on the butterflies of Laguna Blanca. She realized that she was keen on a career in museum work, which became a reality when a museum curator position became available at PLT.

 Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Vice President

Paul obtained his undergraduate degree at University of Liverpool and his Masters at University of Southampton. He has been studying the fauna of Paraguay since 2003. He founded the online community faunaparaguay.com and has published over 100 articles on Paraguayan wildlife. He is a Board member of the conservation organisation Fundacíon Para La Tierra and is actively involved in inventory projects all over Paraguay. He is categorised as a Level 2 Investigator by PRONII/CONACYT.

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Joseph Phillips

volunteer coordinator

Joe has a bachelors degree in zoology from the University of Liverpool. He has also completed a teacher-training course with Liverpool Hope University, teaching science in two secondary schools. Before joining Para La Tierra in November 2017, Joe achieved a master’s in wildlife conservation and UAV technology with Liverpool John Moores University. His master’s thesis topic was chimpanzee habitat use in Tanzania. Joe has worked for various wildlife conservation organisations, including Chester Zoo and SeaLife.