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Regents Appoint UCR Botanist as University Professor

Regents Appoint UCR Botanist as University Professor

(November 19, 1999)

Arturo Gomez-Pompa, a world authority on tropical forest ecology and professor of botany at the University of California, Riverside, was appointed University Professor today by the University of California Board of Regents. Gomez-Pompa becomes the first UCR faculty member to receive the prestigious faculty appointment and the 29th systemwide.

The UC title of University Professor is reserved for scholars of international distinction who are also respected as teachers of exceptional ability. The appointment provides an arrangement by which exceptionally distinguished scholars can visit other UC campuses to give special seminars and presentations and meet with students and faculty.

Gomez-Pompa joins such scholarly giants as sociologist Neil J. Smelser, the late Glenn T. Seaborg, discoverer of many atomic isotopes and UC Santa Cruz astronomer Sandra M. Faber as University Professor appointees.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Gomez-Pompa has spent more than 40 years studying and teaching biology, tropical botany, conservation, ecology, ethnobiology and the land use practices of native peoples of the tropics. He has been a faculty member at UCR since 1986.

He first sounded the alarm about the potential environmental crisis facing the world's rainforests in 1972 with an article in the prestigious journal Science which drew attention to the then-emerging issue of tropical forests as non-renewable resources requiring immediate conservation efforts. The article has been described by many scientists as a seminal work on the issue.

Since then, he has conducted research focusing on tropical forest conservation and management. And, he has worked to find alternative approaches for sustainable management of tropical biodiversity, in part by forging unique alliances between scientists, government agencies in Mexico and indigenous populations to protect nature.

Gomez-Pompa in 1994 received the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, generally regarded as the world's premier award for environmental science and leadership. And, in 1997, he received the Chevron Conservation Award, the nation's oldest privately sponsored conservation honor.

His scientific influence is extended through his work with a number of international environmental efforts. He has served as a member of the Smithsonian Council, on the board of biology of The National Research Council and on the board of governors of The Nature Conservancy. He has also served as advisor on tropical ecology issues to several Presidents of Mexico.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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