Areas of Expertise:
speciation | biodiversity | bird flu | rain forests | conservation | ornithology | climate change
Thomas (Tom) Smith is the founder and director of the Center for Tropical Research at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and an expert on biodiversity in tropical rainforests. Smith, who is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, investigates how biodiversity is generated and maintained in tropical rainforests. A frequent consultant for conservation organizations, he has more than 30 years of experience working in rainforests of Africa, Australia, Latin America and Hawaii and currently oversees a host of research projects worldwide.
Combining molecular genetics and field biology, Smith has identified new theories of how speciation occurs in rainforests and found more effective ways of prioritizing regions for conservation. In recent years his research has also focused on studying evolution in human-altered environments, the ecology of disease and developing new approaches for mapping adaptive variation in species to mitigate the effects of climate change.