Exequiel Ezcurra has been named the recipient of the 2020 Award for Science Diplomacy by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his leadership in bringing together research, education, outreach and policy in service of environmental protection, particularly at the United States-Mexico border.
A professor of ecology in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, Ezcurra undertakes cross-disciplinary research that touches upon conservation science, ecology, biogeography, land-ocean interactions and the application of mathematical modeling in these fields.
Throughout his career, Ezcurra “has gone the extra mile” to ensure that his research informs scientifically sound policy, said Paul Dayton, emeritus professor of marine ecology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in a nomination letter.
Ezcurra has a long history of translating scientific research into policy outcomes. A native of Argentina, Ezcurra completed his Ph.D. at the Bangor University in the United Kingdom, having studied the ecology of the U.S.-Mexico border. His studies led him to a role as Mexico’s director general of natural resource protection in the early 1990s. In this position, he brought together U.S. and Mexican policymakers to establish Mexico’s first natural protected area along the border: the El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve.
“I cannot exaggerate the influential role he has played in terms of tangible achievements in the conservation of nature,” said Rodolfo Dirzo, professor of environmental sciences at Stanford University, in his nomination letter.
Ezcurra also helped to create the first-ever agreement among Mexico, Canada and the United States to collaborate on wildlife and ecosystem conservation and management. The Canada/Mexico/U.S. Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management has flourished since its creation in 1995.