Eleanor Sterling

Eleanor Sterling

Director - Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology, University of Hawai‘i Mānoa and Secretary - Center for Humans and Nature

A scientist with interdisciplinary training in biological and social sciences, Dr. Eleanor Sterling was director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity & Conservation (CBC) from 2000-2014 before being appointed as the director of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology. She also served on the Center for Humans and Nature’s board of directors from its founding until her death in 2023. Dr. Sterling had more than thirty years of field research experience with direct application to conservation in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Her most recent work focused on the intersection between biodiversity, culture, and languages and the factors influencing resilience in biocultural approaches to conservation.

Dr. Sterling was an expert in strategic planning and evaluation of capacity development. She had extensive expertise developing environmental education programs and professional development workshops, having trained teachers, students, and U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in a variety of subjects related to biodiversity conservation. A portion of Dr. Sterling’s past work involved researching Vietnam’s fauna and flora, which led to the 2006 publication Vietnam: A Natural History.

Dr. Sterling was an adjunct professor at Columbia University, where she served as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology for ten years. She was awarded the 2012 Faculty Mentoring Award at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She was also a board member of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies and was honored in 2013 by The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) with its Distinguished Service Award for “outstanding contributions to the field of conservation biology.” Dr. Sterling also served on the SCB board in various positions since 2001.

Dr. Sterling received her BA degree in psychology/biology from Yale College in 1983, and MPhil and PhD degrees in anthropology and forestry and environmental studies from Yale University in 1993.

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