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Cristián Samper

Professional affiliation

President, Wildlife Conservation Society 

Full Biography

Dr. Cristián Samper is president and chief executive officer of the Wildlife Conservation Society, headquartered in New York City.  Dr. Samper is a biologist and international authority on environmental policy.  He is known for his work in the ecology of the Andean cloud forests, conservation biology, and environmental policy.  He previously served as director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History from 2003 to 2012. Prior to that, he was deputy director and staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.  His service to the Smithsonian also included assuming the role of Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian from March 2007 through June 2008. 

Before joining the Smithsonian, Dr. Samper was chairman of the Subsidiary Body of Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the founder and first director of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute. Dr. Samper is vice-chair of Bioversity International and a member of Harvard University’s Board of Overseers.  In 2011, Dr. Samper was named the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year by the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Samper earned a B.S. in biology from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá in 1987.  He completed both his M.S. and Ph.D. in biology at Harvard University in 1989 and 1992.