Being an Academy scientist isn't a desk job—we believe constant, scientifically rigorous exploration is key to documenting, understanding, and better protecting Earth's rich biodiversity.

The Academy's Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability is home to more than 100 dedicated scientists, researchers, and support staff. Together, we travel the world in our efforts to discover new knowledge about Earths' biodiversity, and to rapidly apply that knowledge to a wide range of protections.

From specific initiatives such as our in-house Scientific Diving department—dedicated to surveying and protecting Earth's largely unexplored oceans—to priorities that include the rapid sharing and application of the data we collect, we're committed to being a visible and active force in efforts to sustain life on Earth. 

Penang Hills's rainforest canopy walkway at sunset. © Wendy Baxter

Malaysia Expedition

In October 2017, a team of Academy scientists traveled to Malaysia to conduct a floor-to-canopy biodiversity survey—or bioblitz—of the thriving, 130-million-year-old rainforest atop Penang Hill. Working alongside Malaysian colleagues, the team will share their observations of plant and animal life in real-time via iNaturalist.  

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Bart Shepherd with twilight zone fish

2015 Philippines Biodiversity Expedition

In April 2015, a team of scientists returned to the Philippines' Verde Island Passage, considered the most biologically diverse marine ecosystem on Earth, in search of new species and habitats not previously explored—including the mysterious depths of the "twilight zone," up to 500 feet beneath the ocean's surface. 

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Zeray Alemseged digging in Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Uncovering Human Evolution

The Afar region in Northeastern Ethiopia has played host to some of the most important hominin discoveries ever made—including Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged’s discovery of “Selam,” a 3-year-old Australopithecus afarensis female who predated the famous skeleton we call Lucy.

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Icthyology curator Luiz Rocha holds a collected lionfish

The Caymans: Tracking Invasive Lionfish

In March 2014, Academy's scientists and divers traveled to the Cayman Islands to collect invasive lionfish at depths of up to 400 feet. By analyzing stomach contents, population genomics, and more, our staff are working with local conservationists to better control the lionfish threat to local ecosystems.


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The Academy's Research Institute

The mission of the Academy's Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability is to gather new knowledge about life's diversity and the process of evolution—and to rapidly apply that understanding to our efforts to sustain life on Earth.