The Galapagos Science Center at UNC celebrates its 10th anniversary this year — with plans for a global photo exhibit on campus, a sculptures collaboration with Arts Everywhere and a "World Summit on Island Sustainability" in 2022.
The founding co-directors of the GSC are Steve Walsh, a UNC distinguished emeritus professor and research professor of geography, and Carlos Mena, who received his doctorate in geography from UNC in 2007 and is the director of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito's Institute of Geography.
GSC, located on San Cristobal Island, Ecuador, was created in a joint effort between UNC and its partner, USFQ, to promote education and science that will help protect island ecosystems and improve the lives of their residents.
"I think the main goal of the center is really to bring together researchers from all different research areas to look at issues," Amanda Thompson, GSC interim co-director, said. "As I said, around sort of social, marine and terrestrial systems, but in particular how they overlap."
Now, Thompson and interim co-director Diego Riveros-Iregui are leading the center just in time to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
“I’ve taken a lot of students down to Galapagos, so when the opportunity came up, it was something that I was interested in," Riveros-Iregui said. "Simply because I knew the Galapagos, I have a research program there and it seemed like a fitting and natural step.”
To accomplish its goals, GSC has participated in a variety of projects on the Galapagos Islands, Thompson said. Some of these projects include tracking birds, recording the number of bird species and developing community gardens.
“One of the things that the center has done over COVID is provide research funding to local teams to be able to do what’s called citizen science, a whole range of different projects,” Thompson said.
With years of its work, GSC has served as the only university science facility of its kind in the Galapagos Islands — and the center has numerous projects planned throughout the upcoming year.