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avatar for Dr. Samuel Wasser

Dr. Samuel Wasser

Research Professor & Director of the Center for Conservation Biology
Dr. Samuel Wasser holds the endowed chair in Conservation Biology at the University of
Washington, where he is a Research Professor in the Department of Biology and Director
of the Center for Conservation Biology.

He is acknowledged worldwide for developing noninvasive tools for monitoring human
impacts on wildlife. Professor Wasser pioneered methods to measure the abundance,
distribution and physiological condition of wildlife from their feces, relying on detection
dogs to locate these samples over large wilderness areas. He uses these methods to
address diverse conservation questions including impacts of poaching, oil development or
overharvesting on the well-being of multiple endangered wildlife populations. He used
elephant dung to assemble a DNA reference map of elephants across Africa. By
comparing genotyped ivory to this reference map, he was able to identify Africa’s largest
elephant poaching hotspots, as well as track the number and connectivity of major ivory
traffickers operating in Africa. His work has led to prosecutions of major transnational
ivory traffickers and nurtured key collaborations with numerous law enforcement
authorities worldwide. He received the title of Elephant Hero from the National
Geographic Society and the Albert Schweitzer Medal for his work on wildlife trafficking.


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