Director, UCLA Center for Tropical Research
INSTITUTE OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY
Area of Expertise: Evolutionary biology; speciation; biodiversity; ecological conservation; bird flu.
Thomas Smith, professor of biology and evolutionary ecology, is founder and director of the Center for Tropical Research at the UCLA Institute of the Environment.
Smith specializes in evolutionary biology, the mechanisms of speciation and the conservation of vertebrates, particularly birds and especially in the tropics. Under a grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Smith and his team are studying the role that North American migratory birds play in the dispersion of avian flu strains between breeding sites in Canada and the U.S. and wintering sites in Mexico, Central America and South America. Research published by his team in 2010 found that North American songbirds carry avian flu.
Smith has more than 20 years' experience conducting research in the rainforests of Africa, Australia, Central and South America, and Hawaii and has published more than 100 scholarly articles. He serves on the editorial boards of the journal Animal Conservation and Evolution and is a peer reviewer for many others.
At the Center for Tropical Research, Smith oversees a host of research projects and directs the research of a growing number of graduate and postdoctoral scientists on projects based in tropical countries.
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