Piotr Naskrecki, PhD.
Associate Director, E.O. Wilson Lab
Originally from Poland, but now living in Massachusetts, I have always been fascinated by the diversity of life, its evolution, and beauty. I earned an M.Sc. degree in Zoology at the A. Mickiewicz University in Poland, and a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Connecticut. My specialty is the evolution of singing insects (katydids and their relatives) and invertebrate conservation biology. I am also a nature photographer and writer. My office is at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
I first visited the Park in May 2012 as a member of a scientific expedition lead by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson. Our mission was to document the diversity of several groups of insects, and I was simply blown away by the richness of life I witnessed in Gorongosa, and the diversity and pristine condition of the natural habitats found in the Park. While there, I became keenly interested in the efforts to create a modern biodiversity research laboratory in the Park. A few years earlier I had been involved in a similar project in one of the protected areas in Costa Rica, and immediately recognized the incredible value and potential of the planned laboratory. Shortly after Greg Carr asked me to join the lab’s scientific team, and I was more than happy to oblige.
My role at Gorongosa National Park is two-fold. As a scientist, I am helping develop a modern research facility, the E.O. Wilson Laboratory, which will become the leading hub of biodiversity research in Mozambique and, I am convinced, most of southeastern Africa. An important element of the Lab is a synoptic collection of animals and plants found in the Park, which will be available to students and scientists hoping to learn to identify and protect Mozambique’s biological heritage. As a nature photographer and writer, I am involved in projects that promote Gorongosa’s biological riches to the world. This includes writing a field guide to its wildlife and a planned documentary about Gorongosa’s insect life.
The scientist in me sees Gorongosa as a laboratory of complex ecological interactions, a place bursting with amazing, beautiful forms of life. Every walk on the slopes of Mount Gorongosa or in the grasslands on the shores of Lake Urema carries a promise of new observations and discoveries. The conservationist in me wants Gorongosa to become the beacon of healthy, peaceful coexistence of people, who have lived in this region for hundreds of thousands of years, and the natural world. The story of Gorongosa is a story of perseverance and optimism, a story of a place that is blessed by Nature. I know that Gorongosa will be a success, and I want to be a part of it.