The rainforests of the Gulf of Guinea and Congo Basin are located in western equatorial Africa. These rainforests are among the most important centers of biological diversity in the world, harboring roughly 20% of all known species of plants and animals. Research in Gonder’s group is focused on examining the history of this biologically-rich region with the specific goals of: (i) deciphering spatial patterns of biodiversity across the region; (ii) inferring the underlying evolutionary and ecological processes that generate the region’s rich biodiversity; and (iii) using this knowledge to help inform conservation strategies in western equatorial Africa which recognize and integrate evolutionary patterns and the natural processes that produced them.
Members of Gonder’s group are currently pursing research in a range of tropical organisms, with the explicit aim of improving biodiversity prediction and conservation in central Africa. The research also includes both laboratory analysis in the U.S. and fieldwork in western equatorial Africa, primarily in Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria. The research program also incorporates data from diverse fields, including population genetics, genomics, phylogeography, geospatial modeling, virology and conservation science. Research in her group is highly collaborative, and occurs within a diverse, international network that includes academic researchers, conservation professionals and decision-makers.
An additional focus area is to promote multi-institutional capacity building activities that will boost biodiversity research and conservation efforts in western equatorial Africa, a region undergoing rapid climatic change and socioeconomic transformation. Laboratory members have contributed to several activities ranging from primary research, educational outreach and conservation action planning. Notably, Gonder is a principal investigator on a bold research and educational program unites more than 150 researchers and students from the U.S., Africa and Europe around an innovative research project that seeks to identify meaningful conservation measures to mitigate the effects of habitat loss and climate change in western equatorial Africa.
Jenn Cohen joins Drexel from the Brookings Institution, where she managed special projects for the Global Economy and Development research program and published on the role of big data in accelerating progress on sustainable development. She is thrilled to leverage her background in international education to facilitate higher education opportunities for students in Equatorial Guinea. As a Fulbright Scholar, and later Spanish Ministry of Education Fellow, Jenn worked with bilingual high schools in Madrid and on the northern coast of Spain to develop Global Classrooms curriculum and English language training. She graduated from the University of Chicago and holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).
David Montgomery has served as BBPP’s National Manager since 2015 and has worked for Drexel in Equatorial Guinea since 2012. David has operational and oversight responsibilities for Drexel’s activities in Equatorial Guinea, including for the GENTE Consortium and BBPP. David is committed to the hard work of collaboration and conservation in EG, but has worked in various other contexts for shorter term projects including Namibia, Peru and Tajikistan. He loves adventure travel, backpacking and running in his free time.