Our Team

We are fascinated by the endless diversity of life. Our aim is to enable citizen scientists to be directly involved in new biodiversity discoveries. With traditional naturalist methods and modern DNA and cyber-biology tools, we will contribute to the knowledge of the staggering biodiversity of Borneo and aid in its conservation.

Menno Schilthuizen

 

Dr. Menno Schilthuizen is Co-founder and Co-director of Taxon Expeditions. He is a senior researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, and professor of evolution and biodiversity at Leiden University, the Netherlands. From 2000 to 2006, he lived and worked in Malaysian Borneo, where he helped set up the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation.

 

His work focuses on evolution and biodiversity, mostly in insects and snails. He has worked on “endemic” species from tropical caves and mountains, the amazing diversity of genitalia in insects, the evolution of shells in land snails, and biodiversity on tropical islands. His research takes him to his favourite field sites in Borneo and Crete, although he also runs several research projects in the Netherlands.

 

In addition to his research and teaching, Schilthuizen is active in science popularization. He has published three books for the general public, of which Nature’s Nether Regions (Penguin, 2014) is the latest. He currently works on a book on urban evolution for Quercus Books (due in 2017). He also lectures internationally and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Time, New Scientist, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times.

 

To contact Menno, visit his homepage, Studio Schilthuizen

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Iva Njunjić

 

Dr. Iva Njunjić is Co-founder and Co-director of Taxon Expeditions. She is biospeleologist (or: cave-biologist) working on evolution of cave beetles. She obtained her PhD from the Paris-Sorbonne University and has worked at the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, the University of Novi Sad, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. She has eight years of experience in exploring caves in the Balkans and Borneo, and has published scientific papers on the bizarre spider-like cave beetles of southern Europe. Her work has been featured in international media like the Guardian  and Live Science. Some of her cave explorations were captured in videos that can be viewed here and here.

 

Contact Iva via iva.enco@gmail.com

Hendrik Freitag

 

Dr. Hendrik Freitag is an Associate Professor at the Ateneo de Manila University where he leads the Ecology and Systematics Research Cluster and the international SEABIO Consortium for Interdisciplinary Biodiversity Research with several SE Asian and European institutions. For almost 20 years, he works on aquatic insects, especially water beetles, but also freshwater decapods. He also coordinates sustainable land-use projects with Rainforestation Farming in Key Biodiversity Areas of the Philippines and organizes Aquatic Biodiversity Workshops and conferences almost every year.

 

His research results attracted renowned media such as National Geographic, the Guardian or the science curiosity TV show Matanglawin of ABS-CBN Philippines. From 2009 to 2013 he was board chairman of the Phyllodrom Rainforest Museum Leipzig where he is still active. Currently he serves as lead author for the Regional Assessment for Asia and the Pacific of the UN-driven Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

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Massimo Delledonne

Massimo Delledonne is Full Professor of Genetics at Universita' degli Studi di Verona. He manages a vigorous research program that emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to understanding plant and human biology. His own expertise is in the areas of genetics, molecular biology and genomics, and collaborates with researchers in diverse fields, including bioinformatics, microbiology and plant genomics, and medicine.

 

He is co-founder and scientific director of Personal Genomics S. R. L., a spin-off of University of Verona established in 2011 that operates in the field of human genomics and personalized medicine.

 

Special Guest: Carin Bondar

 

Guest instructor is Canadian Carin Bondar. She has a PhD in biology from the University of British Columbia. Her field work took her to the forests of British Columbia and New Zealand where she studied small stream ecosystems.

 

In addition to being an adjunct professor of biology at The University of the Fraser Valley, she is the writer and host of the web series Wild Sex (Earth Touch Productions) that has garnered over 60 million views. Her TED talk on the same topic has reached an audience of over 2.3 million. Wild Sex, her book based on the series (Pegasus USA), was released on August 2, 2016 and her next book Wild Moms is due to be released on Mother’s Day 2018. Dr. Bondar can be seen on a variety of television and web series including Outrageous Acts of Science on the Discovery Channel and Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World on National Geographic. She is also the host of World Oddest Animal Couples, (Netflix, Animal Planet).

Bondar’s main website is www.carinbondar.com.

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Collaborators
In Borneo, we work closely with Maliau Basin Management Committee, who oversee the conservation and research activities in Maliau Basin, and who granted us permission to carry out our Expedition in the area, using their field centre as our base.

We also work with Prof. Dr. Charles Vairappan  and Dr. Thor-Seng Liew at the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ITBC) of Universiti Malaysia Sabah, the local university in Kota Kinabalu. The specimens we will collect during the course are deposited in the "Borneensis" natural history collection of ITBC, and the photographs and DNA-sequences obtained from them are linked to their collection database.

Our research permits were granted by the Sabah Biodiversity Centre, the agency that oversees all biodiversity-related activities in Sabah. The expeditions of Taxon Expeditions fall under permit JKM/MBS.1000-2/2 JLD.5 (51).

Finally, we will be analysing DNA with the mobile lab of Dr. Massimo Delledonne. Click here  to find out more about his amazing set-up!