Team and Collaborators

The Macaw Society is an international research group collaborating with many local and international scientists and organizations. Reach out if you want to become part of our growing parrot conservation family:

Donald J. Brightsmith, PhD | Director

Don did his PhD 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 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 for Avian Health at the Texas A&M CVM in 2006.


Gabriela Vigo, PhD | Co-Director

Gaby is a Peruvian parrot researcher graduated as a Biologist from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima, Peru. She started working with the project in 2003. 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. 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. She studies macaw chick growth, macaw parental care, and macaw nesting behavior to determine family relations and implications for conservation of the species. Gaby completed her PhD at the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M in 2020.

George Olah, PhD | Scientific Adviser, Collaborator

George graduated with an MSc in Zoology from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Budapest, Hungary. He participated in several field research projects studying parrots and macaws in Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru. He studied the population genetics of large macaws in the Tambopata-Candamo region in Peru. He completed his PhD at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University. George is a conservation geneticist and nature documentary filmmaker who co-founded the nonprofit organization Wildlife Messengers.


Gustavo Martinez, Ms | Scientific Adviser, Collaborator

Gustavo is a Peruvian botanist that studied biology in the Pedro Ruiz Gallo National University in Lambayeque, in the north cost of Peru. He started working with The Macaw Society on 2005 as a field volunteer assistant and then came back on 2009 to be our field leader for five years. During this time, his main research was to document the phenology of plant species eaten by macaws and parrots in the area and estimate the food abundance in the forest for these species. On 2016, Gustavo worked on his master investigation focused on how environmental factors, such as precipitation, influence phenology of the plants consumed by macaws in Tambopata.

Carlos Huamani | Field Assistant

Carlos is fond of birdwatching and specializes in birds-of-prey. He worked on a project with CICRA studying mercury contamination in predatory birds and on other issues related to conservation. He has been working with the project since 2007, first as a volunteer and then field manager at Posada Amazonas and Refugio Amazonas. Currently, he works with the team as a lead field assistant, maintaining artificial nests.

Sharman Hoppes, DVM | Veterinarian, Collaborator

Sharman graduated from Oklahoma State University as 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.

Bruce Nixon, DVM | Veterinarian, Collaborator

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, PhD | Botanist, Collaborator

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.

Alan Lee, PhD | Scientific Adviser

Alan received his PhD in 2010, through the Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Currently, he resides in South Africa, where he runs the Blue Hill Nature Reserve. He continues to publish work related to his time as a researcher with the project.

Native Community of Infierno | Collaborator Community

The Native Community of Infierno at the Tambopata River is part of the Ese’eja Nation, whose members have been collaborating with our project for decades. Their local knowledge and skills have been essential to our field research in their ancestral lands. We are planning to strengthen our collaboration with the members of the community by environmental education, capacity building, and collaborative work with them.

Wildlife Messengers | Collaborator NGO

Wildlife Messengers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the purpose of making scientific and educational films to promote nature conservation, mainly in countries with lower industrial bases, and to distribute them to national and international audiences. The targeted audiences include government authorities, elementary and middle schools, local indigenous communities, and non-governmental organizations. The Macaw Society has collaborated in many videos and films produced by Wildlife Messengers, like The Macaw Project and The Macaw Kingdom.


Natura Mexicana | Collaborator NGO

In the past few years, we have been collaborating with macaw researchers from Mexico, whose study site is in the Lacandona forest in Chiapas. As part of this collaboration, several of their researchers have visited our study site in Tambopata and our researchers have helped them in their site in Lacandona. This interchange of researchers resulted in sharing knowledge and experiences essential in the conservation of the last remaining scarlet macaw population in Mexico. We were also involved in workshops organized by Natura Mexicana with the Mexican Government about future reintroduction plans in their country.