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Rakan A. Zahawi

Rakan A. (Zak) Zahawi will start his new role as director of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Harold L. Lyon Arboretum effective October 1, 2017.

Zahawi is a tropical ecologist with a particular focus in the field of restoration ecology. Committed to putting research into practice to promote conservation, he was previously director of the Organization for Tropical Studies Las Cruces Biological Station and Wilson Botanical Garden in southern Costa Rica.

“We are very excited about Dr. Zahawi joining the leadership team at Mānoa,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Michael Bruno. “His numerous accomplishments and experiences across a wide range of global locations and missions make him uniquely qualified to lead the arboretum. We look forward to working with Dr. Zahawi as we continue to expand the Arboretum’s role in our research and educational missions.”

More on Rakan Zahawi

Zahawi’s research focuses primarily on evaluating different cost-effective methods to facilitate or accelerate tropical forest recovery in degraded habitats. He has conducted both observational and experimental research and established large- and small-scale projects with collaborators and students from multiple institutions.

He has coauthored more than 40 scientific publications and has been recognized for his work through awards to specific published articles and, more recently he and his main collaborator jointly received the 2017 Society for Ecological Restoration Theodore M. Sperry Award. The biannual award is given to scientists who have made a significant and enduring contribution to advancing restoration science or practice through the development of new methods, tools, techniques or strategies. Zahawi is a dedicated researcher who not only works to further scientific advancement in his field, but is also committed to applying his research knowledge to further conservation goals wherever he lives.

Zahawi received a bachelor of science in botany from the University of Texas at Austin and his doctorate in plant biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following that he taught for three years as a faculty member for the Duke Organization for Tropical Studies Undergraduate Semester Abroad Program in Costa Rica. The program is a rigorous, semester-long field-based experience that introduces some of the most promising U.S. undergraduates in biology to a broad range of pressing topics in tropical biology. Zahawi taught plant ecology and taxonomy, mentored students in developing their field research skills, and oversaw the complex logistics of running a field course at multiple sites.

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