We are an international research group based at the Tambopata Research Center. In addition to our permanent staff, we also collaborate with many local and international researchers.
Donald J. Brightsmith, Director
Don did his Ph.D. in Manu, Peru, and has been involved in parrot and macaw research ever since. He took over the macaw project in 1999. Since then he has led the project from strength to strength and published a host of groundbreaking papers on various aspects of macaw breeding, reintroduction, and clay lick ecology.
He has been on hand to teach, inspire, and lead scores of Peruvian and international students and volunteers. Previously with Duke University, he made the move to the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and the Schubot Center of Avian Health at the Texas A&M CVM in 2005.
Gabriela Vigo Brightsmith, Coordinator
Gaby is a Peruvian parrot researcher that graduated as a biologist from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, in Lima, Peru. She started working with the macaw project in 2003, as a volunteer assistant. Since then, she has helped in many different positions, such as field leader and project general coordinator. She’s now a member of the scientific advisory staff and one of the longest participants in the project.
Her expertise is in parrot nesting ecology and behavior. Her main investigations are related to the growth and development of macaw chicks in the wild and the use of artificial nest boxes by different species of psittacines. She went to Brazil in 2006, to learn about the Red-tailed Amazon Conservation Project under the SPVS organization (Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Slavagem) in Curitiba. Another substantial part of her research is the use of video cameras inside macaw nests. With this investigation, she is documenting and researching the chick starvation phenomenon and disputes for the use of nests.
Since 2009, Gaby has also been a research assistant at the Schubot Center for Avian Health at the Texas A&M CVM. Her main activities are related to the environmental maintenance and enrichment of the psittacine collection (macaw, parrots, cockatiels, and parakeets) that the center owns. She is also interested in the use of new techniques, such as genetics, in the understanding of natural history and nesting ecology of psittacines.
She is working on a Ph.D. at Texas A&M in the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences under Dr. Thomas Laucher. She intends to use her previous knowledge about macaw chick growth, macaw parental care, and macaw nesting behavior, along with genetic analysis, to determine family relations and implications for conservation of the species.
George Olah, Scientific Adviser
George graduated with an M.Sc. in Zoology from the Szent István University, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, in Budapest, Hungary. Now he is a Ph.D. student of the Australian National University and his research topic is the Demography and Population Genetics of Large Macaws, under the supervision of Robert Heinsohn, Rod Peakall, and Donald Brightsmith.
Previously, he has participated in several field research projects dealing with parrots and macaws in Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru. During the field season of 2008–09, he was the field leader of the center and became a staff member of the macaw project.
Nancy Carlos Erazo, Veterinarian
Nancy studied at the Veterinary Faculty of the Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University (UPCH). She started as a macaw project volunteer and later became the field leader at the center. She has experience working on wildlife conservation projects. She really likes working in the field—especially with macaws.
Carlos Huamani, Field Assistant
Carlos, who is fond of bird-watching, specializes in birds of prey. He worked on a project with CICRA studying mercury contamination in predatory birds (Contaminacion de Mercurio en Rapaces) and on other issues related to conservation. He has been working with the macaw project since 2007, first as a volunteer and then field manager at Posada Amazonas and Refugio Amazonas. Currently, he works with the project team at the center as a field assistant, maintaining the artificial nests. He’s one of the expert climbers on the project.
Sharman Hoppes, Veterinarian
Sharman graduated from Oklahoma State University with her DVM in 1993, prior to that she worked as a registered nurse for 10 years caring for human patients. She completed an avian medicine and surgical residency in 1999 at North Carolina State University and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) in avian medicine in 2000. She is an active member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, has been on their board of directors, and has chaired two Avian Welfare committees. She is also active in the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians and the Association of Reptile & Amphibian Veterinarians.
She joined the Texas A&M CVM in 2006 and is an Adjunct Clinical Professor and Professor Emerita in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. Her research interests include avian analgesia and Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) in parrots. She is married to Dr. Bruce Nixon and has two amazing daughters, Lee Ann and Lindsey. She also has many pets, including birds, cats, dogs, and rats. She loves to read, walk her dogs, play with her birds, and travel with her husband.
Bruce Nixon, Veterinarian
Bruce is the chief of staff of a large emergency animal hospital in the Dallas, Texas area. The facility houses many specialties including internal medicine, surgery, dermatology, and ophthalmology. In addition, he is active on the Animal Welfare Committees of both the Association of Avian Veterinarians and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Percy Nuñez, Botanist
Percy is a field biologist with an encyclopedic knowledge of neotropical botany. He pursued a doctorate in plant biology (Southwest Amazon ecoregion) at the University of Minnesota. He received a Russell E. Train Scholarship and he gained several professional experiences at places such as the Missouri Botanical Garden, Duke University, Yale University, and Montana State University.
He currently works in the botany division of the Natural History Museum of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. His hobbies include agriculture, carpentry, and herbarium museum routine, among others.
Alan Lee, Scientific Adviser
Alan conducted the fieldwork for this Ph.D. with the macaw project in 2005–09, after volunteering for the project in 2002–03. He received his Ph.D. in 2010, through the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.
Currently, Alan resides in South Africa, where he runs the Blue Hill Nature Reserve and is pursuing postdoctoral research on the endemic birds of the Fynbos biome. He continues to publish work related to his time as a researcher with the project and continues to dream of his time in one of the most biodiverse and exciting parts of the world.
Jerico Solis, Associated Researcher
Jerico studied biology and ecology at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, in Lima, Peru. He has a wide range of experiences in conservation biology programs, monitoring, and management. He has worked as a field assistant at the coasts of Northern Peru monitoring sea-birds, sea-mammals (sea otters, cetaceans, and marine otter). He has also participated in field research with tropical birds in Chanchamayo (Junin) and with the macaw project (Madre de Dios).
He currently works as an officer in the Control of Avian Danger & Fauna (Control del Peligro Aviario y Fauna) department at the Jorge Chavez International Airport, in Lima, Peru. He is also a member of the macaw project. Jerico is restless and likes to learn new things and meet new people. He also likes activities that require all of his energy, like adventure sports, traveling, or working in the field.