Rainforest takes center stage in UHV public lecture

Mark Johnson

The public can find out what the rainforests of Ecuador are really like during a public lecture at noon Monday at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Mark Johnson, a biology professor from St. Joseph College in West Hartford, Conn., will present “High on Biodiversity: Lessons from the Ecuador Rainforest” in the Alcorn Auditorium of University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

He’ll talk about what he discovered during his two-week trip throughout Ecuador in June.   During his journey, he visited the Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation, a rainforest restoration and preservation organization; Cajas National Park in the mountains; and the Tiputini Biological Research Station in the Amazon basin.

The trip allowed him to see many things firsthand that most people only hear about in documentaries or read about in books, Johnson said.

“Ecuador is the size of Colorado and has more birds than all of North America,” he said.

During his presentation, he also hopes to dispel often-held misconceptions about the region.

“The city of Cuenca gets its water from the Cajas National Park, and it has better quality water than in most American towns,” he said. He also spent days sleeping in the rainforest and received no mosquito bites, he said. But he did see thousands of examples of birds, plants and other creatures native to the region, and he is bringing photos of many of them with him, he said.

Visiting lecturers like Johnson are one of the advantages a university brings to a city and region, said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, which houses the biology program.

“We’re proud to be able to bring in Dr. Johnson to share his exotic experiences from this trip with our students and our community,” he said.

For more information, contact assistant biology professor Dmitri Sobolev at 361-570-4218 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342