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Want to see who you will meet at the conference? Below you can read a little bit more about all of our amazing speakers! From UCLA professors, to Smithsonian researchers to artists, we guarantee there will be someone from your field of passion!

Prof. Pincetl.
Dr Hall.
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Raisa Banfield.

Former Vice-Mayor of Panama City,
Selected "Top 5 Urban Visionaries of Latin America", Founder, director "Fundación Panama Sostenible". 

Raisa Banfield is an architect who has for 15 years dedicated herself to the practice of architectural design and construction, founding her own firm: Estudio RGB,S.A, which is involved in environmental and urban defense. Ms. Banfield has given various conference presentations at a national and international level and represented the city ​​and the country in various forums to present case studies and models related to territorial development and management. She was selected as one of the "Top 5 Urban Visionaries" of Latin America, by Quarterly Urban Visionaries Magazine in October 2018. She is currently the Director of Sustainable Development of the Consulting Firm Center for the Integration of Nature and Cities, as well as the founding president and executive director of the Sustainable Panama Foundation.

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Harilaos Lessios, PhD. 

Senior scientist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI).

Harilaos Lessios received his Bachelors degree from Harvard University in 1973 and his Ph. D. from Yale University in 1979. He has worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama as a marine biologist ever since, rising to the rank of Senior Scientist. He served as Deputy Director and Director of Marine Research at STRI.


Most of his field work was done on the ecology of coral reefs in the San Blas Archipelago on the Caribbean coast of Panama, but in recent years he has been concentrating on questions of speciation and molecular evolution of marine organisms, with special emphasis on sea urchins. He has published 110 articles in reviewed journals and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was the editor of the proceedings of the 8 th International Coral Reef Symposium, held in Panama in 1996.

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Tatiana von Rheinbaben. 

SURGE activism project manager.

Tati is a global citizen with a background in molecular biology and environmental engineering and science.  


After an internship at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and an internship at The Not Company in Chile, Tati started working for the animal rights organization Surge.


Tati also worked one year at Refarm’d and is now still actively involved in the farm transition space with the German farm transition non-profit BeVeLa (= Begleitung zur Veganen Landwirtschaft, in English: Accompaniment to Vegan Agriculture).

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Ernesto Gomez

Researcher, Copenhagen University. Teacher. 

I am a former Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientist that has 12 years devoted to the study of fungus-growing ants, specially focusing on how these ants manage diseases.


I am currently teaching PHE at the MET, and I still collaborate doing research for the Department of Tropical Ecology at the Copenhagen University in Denmark.

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Grace McGuigan

Executive board, Sunrise Northeastern. MIT Climate Solutions Initiative team.

Grace McGuigan is the Research and Education Program Intern at the Environmental Solutions Initiative. Grace is a junior at Northeastern University, with a major in Environmental Studies and minors in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. She is especially interested in environmental and ecological justice. Outside of ESI, Grace is on the Executive Board of Sunrise Northeastern, a hub of the Sunrise Movement. She is responsible for the hub’s participation in local and national campaigns, opportunities, events, and partnerships. She is also a mentor at Northeastern’s chapter of Strong Women, Strong Girls, which creates positive mentoring relationships between college women and pre-adolescent girls in Boston’s underserved communities. Prior to ESI, Grace was a research assistant for the Global Center for Climate Justice, a Boston-based nonprofit that brings organizers and scholars together to address climate justice issues around the country.

Stephanie Pincetl, PhD.

Chair, Environmental Science and Engineering; Founding Director and Professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Stephanie Pincetl is a Professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and Founding Director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. Her focus is on social and environmental justice and the need to develop equitable strategies to reduce human impacts on the planet. She is expert in bringing together interdisciplinary teams of researchers across the biophysical and engineering sciences with the social sciences to address problems of complex urban systems and environmental management.


Dr. Pincetl has a PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA. She has received the prestigious Burrill Award in 2019 and the 2020 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Geography Department at the University of Manchester. She has also been asked to join the Editorial Board of the journal Applied Energy, one of the most highly cited energy journals in the world. 

Ms. Raisa Banfield

Stanley Heckadon-Moreno, PhD.

Former director, Panamanian Environmental MinistrySenior scientist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI). Author. 

During the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Heckadon-Moreno worked in community development, with rural and indigenous communities in Panama and Central America. During this time he also worked with the government to help found the National park system in Panama. In 1989, following the U.S. invasion of Panama, Dr. Heckadon-Moreno served as director of today’s environment ministry. From 1996-2000, he led STRI’s Panama Canal Watershed Natural Resources Monitoring Project. He was part of a small team that worked toward the creation of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the key decision of turning the forest of the former Canal Zone into protected areas. Since 2000, Dr. Heckadon-Moreno has been responsible for STRI’s Galeta Point Marine Laboratory in Colón. Apart from all of this Dr. Heckadon-Moreno is the author of several books as well as an expert on scientific education and outreach!


Jefferson Hall, PhD. 

Senior scientist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI).

With a PhD from Yale in Tropical Forest Ecology, Dr. Hall is an active senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution. He is an expert in Conservation Biology, Restoration Ecology, but also collaborates regularly with "social scientist and economists on subjects related to human behavior and land management." 

Currently, Dr. Hall is the director of the 700 hectare Agua Salud project. Amongst many other things this project allows us to better understand how rainforests change along with land use and will allow us to make the next generation of predictive models. 


Brian Vergara

Famous painter.

Brian Vergara is a renowned Panamanian artist known for his use of plastic and his particular style; notably its distinctive colorful trees and origami figures. Among his achievements and feats stand the “Roberto Lewis” National Visual Arts Contest, where he obtained third place in 2008 and the first place in 2011; in 2017, the San Felipe Foundation honored him with the title of "Artist of the Year". In addition, he obtained the “Panama en Positivo” in the category of “Artista en Positivo” and, in 2018, the ‘Fundación de Arte en el Parque’ distinguished him for his outstanding artistic career. His works are part of important private and institutional collections, in Panama and abroad. In Panama, his works are represented in the Habitante gallery; but they also have permanent representation in El Salvador, Colombia and Miami (Florida). Brian's works communicate through a chromatic synthesis that moves away from the ostentatious and dazzles with its subtle forcefulness. 

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Serena Buscarello.

Researcher. MIT Climate Solutions Initiative team.

Serena Buscarello is the Communications and Research Intern at the Environmental Solutions Initiative. She is currently finishing her final year at Northeastern University where she is working towards a combined BA degree in Environmental Studies and International Affairs with a minor in Photojournalism. Before joining ESI, Serena was an assistant educator at Change is Simple, Inc., helping teach elementary school students around the North Shore about the environment and climate change and conducted research on environmental justice for the Northeastern University Environmental Justice Research Collaborative. Previously, Serena had worked with the Vanashakti NGO to conduct research on the impact of mangrove inundation on local Koli Fisherman in Thane Creek, Mumbai, India.

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Dr Lessios
Ms Rheinbaben
Ms. Banfield
Dr. Heckadon-Moreno
Mr Vergara
Mr Gomez
Ms. Buscarello.
Ms. McGuigan
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