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Rubenstein Fellowship awarded to expert on biodiversity

Posted: 05/22/2012

Forests in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania are estimated to be 30 million years old and contain 2,000 species of woody plants, many rare and unique and some considered important for scientific research.

For the past 21 years, Norbert Cordeiro, assistant professor of biology at Roosevelt University, has been studying the region. Now four or five students can take an active role in his research, thanks to a Rubenstein Fellowship he received from the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an online collaborative encyclopedia attempting to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science.

“The award will enable us to mentor students and disseminate important information that will hopefully advance both science and conservation in an area of the world where so little is known,” Cordeiro said.

Cordeiro is one of 16 scientists from around the world selected for a Rubenstein Fellowship. “The 2012 EOL Rubenstein Fellows come from various professional and cultural backgrounds and are engaged in a broad range of cutting-edge scientific research activities,” said Erick Mata, EOL executive director. “By using the Encyclopedia of Life, the fellows share biodiversity research with their colleagues and the general public.”

The Roosevelt professor, who also is a research associate at Chicago’s Field Museum, grew up in Tanzania, located in eastern Africa. He and his students will concentrate their work on 350 to 700 tree species in the Eastern Arc Mountains. Cordeiro said the area is an “evolutionary hotspot,” but it also is a place where basic information is difficult to obtain. Many of the tree species in the mountains are poorly known and yet many have important uses for the local residents who live in or are adjacent to the forests.