Kohei Kubota, JICA Web Computing Consultant

Kohei is a volunteer with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) consulting for 2 years with the Azuero Earth Project. He was born in Yokohama City, Japan. He graduated from the Economics department at Kochi University, and has worked at various companies over the past 15 years in developing corporate systems, web page programming and design, and making digital designs for schools. With the Azuero Earth Project, he is working to improve this website and social network communication through enhancing the capacity and knowledge of the AEP team.

Katherine Cann

Katie is a student pursuing a Masters Degree in Geography and GIS at the George Washington University. She is interested in the intersection of conservation and tourism. While in the Pedasí, she will be studying the contexts necessary for successful community conservation, protected area management planning, and ecotourism in the Pablo Arturo Barrios wildlife refuge.


Ryan Dibala, Collaborating Scientist

Ryan is a doctoral student at the University of Missouri’s Center for Agroforestry investigating plant neighborhood effects on production and nutrient availability in silvopastoral systems. With financial assistance from the Borlaug Global Food Security Fellowship and logistical assistance from AEP, Ryan has worked with local ranchers to establish 4 acres of multi-strata silvopastoral systems on three farms . His work examines the neighborhood influences of nitrogen fixing and phosphorous aggregating fodder shrubs on the growth and survival of timber seedlings and grass dry matter yield. He is also assessing the growth and nutritional content of several species of popular planted improved grasses across a gradient of shade intensities in mixed species native tree plantations. The overall goal of this research is to help elucidate the impacts that perennial trees and fodder shrubs have on overall grass production and nutritive content in these systems.    

James L. Knight, Research Associate

After a stint in the US Army Jim finished his undergraduate degree at Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas, before attending three years of graduate school at the Museum of Natural History, The University of Kansas, Lawrence. From there he went to the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, where he worked for two years, and then on to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, where he worked for four years on snake and alligator ecology. He joined the staff of the South Carolina State Museum in 1987 and remained at that institution until his retirement in 2010, serving as Director of Collections and Chief Curator of Natural History. During his time at the SC State Museum his main research emphasis was in Vertebrate Paleontology, but after his retirement he “rediscovered his roots” and went back to the study of Herpetology. He has made six trips to Panama, five centered on the herpetofauna of Cocle Province, which has resulted in several coauthored short publications and one book. His last trip focused his attention on the herpetofauna of the Azuero Peninsula.

Timoteo Viel – Reforestation Consultant.

Timo is assisting the AEP team with their reforestation efforts and establishment of a biological corridor on the Azuero peninsula in order to enhance the dry tropical forest

Timo comes to the AEP as a volunteer with Cuerpo de Paz.  Timo is a biologist with many years of experience working on private lands conservation issues in order to address specific resource concerns regarding fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, soil erosion, and invasive species.  His previous conservation efforts included working on conservation projects from Colombia S.A to Alaska. Timo recently retired from his position as regional biologist in California with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and is very excited about this new opportunity to help the AEP with their misión of protecting and restoring dry tropical forest habitats of the Azuero

Carolyn Balk – Education Consultant

Carolyn is a Peace Corps Response volunteer for nine months with the Azuero Earth Project, specializing in environmental education. She has her bachelor’s from New York University (2014) in culture, globalization, and environmental studies, and she has her master’s from Columbia University (2017) in climate and society. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Micronesia as an English, biology, and math teacher. She also worked with the New York City government in environmental education, and with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society developing education material. She is interested in conservation, climate change, and education.

Danilo Chiari – Investigator

Danilo is a student of Environmental Biology in the University of Panama, at the Regional University Center of Colon. Previously, he had study 2 years of Marine Biology at the International Maritime University of Panama (UMIP). He lives in the province of colon, is a nature lover and has been assistants in multiple scientific projects with thesis students and scientific researchers. He has participated in environmental initiatives such as the “Alianza por el millon de hectareas” in the Gatun Lake Recreation Area, now he is advancing in his career as a researcher in a second project together with the Azuero Earth Project, working with the Azuero Spider Monkey Initiative that consists in carrying out a census of the population of the spider monkey. He is also a lover of sports such as Soccer, Basketball, Ping-pong among other disciplines.

Gabriel Antonio Castillo Batista, Intern

Gabriel Antonio Castillo Batista, was born on September 13 in the year 2000, he is currently 18 years old. His mother’s name was Johanna Aracely Batista Díaz, she was a pharmacist and worked at Chitre’s Hospital pharmacy. His father Oliver Oriel Castillo Gonzalez has worked in public institutions such as Minsa. Nowadays, he is living with his maternal grandmother and his maternal uncle in La Villa de Los Santos and he is a senior of 12th grade at Soyuz Bilingual School; school in which he studied since 2011.

Currently, Gabriel aspires to become a doctor in human medicine and wishes to specialize on cardiology and also become a surgeon. He is applying to medicine faculty in Universidad de Panama, but also he is applying for a complete scholarship for the career in a private college, this scholarship are with the Ifharu. Fun fact is that medicine was not is only choice, he wanted to study gastronomy, but he changed his mind on 7th grade when the class was shown an open heart surgery, he started to like the human anatomy and specially the heart. Since then, he has not changed his mind on becoming a doctor.

Gabriel holds within himself, moral values that has been taught to him by the people that supports him. The Palma Paz family, taught him about the importance of studying and responsibility and honesty, although they are not blood related, they love him as child of their own and have raised him since he was 3 months old. Gabriel counts too with the support of his paternal uncles and his maternal grandparents.


Miguel Montenegro

He was born in Veraguas, May 30, 1994 and grew up in Las Tablas, Los Santos; He finished his secondary studies at the (IPTA) Professional and Technical Institute of Azuero as Bachelor in Autotronic in 2012. He practices his first profession as Automotive Mechanic in the SAMANIEGO WORKSHOP since 2010. He then enters the University of Panama initiating his professional career as Degree on Ecological Geographical Tourism in 2013. Currently participates in the II Population Study of Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi azuerencis) as a professional practice in the Azuero Earth project in 2017. He supports the conservation of the fauna and flora of the planet. He likes natural expeditions, meeting people; places and extreme sports.