C2ST Speakeasy with Dr. Lesley de Souza

Saving Giants of the Amazon at Geek Bar Chicago’s SCIENCE! Tuesday

The Rupununi region of Guyana is a mix of lowland savannas and tropical forests. The vast savannas include an expansive network of wetlands that connect the Guyana’s main river drainage, Essequibo River, to the Amazon River during the rainy season. This unique biogeographic feature influences fish communities of the area. One of the fish species found here is in dire need of protection. Arapaima, threatened throughout their range, are the world’s largest scaled fish, weighing as much as 400lbs, and belonging to one of the most ancient lineages of freshwater fish; their ancestors shared the vast wetlands of prehistoric South America with the dinosaurs. They are also a historically important resource for Guyana’s indigenous communities.

In addition to revealing the basic life history of these famous but poorly-understood animals through surveys and radio tracking, Lesley’s research is also aimed at helping the people of the North Rupununi region establish a protected area on their traditional lands, which face biological and cultural threats from large-scale agriculture, mining, and illegal logging.

Dr. Lesley de Souza’s fascination with the natural world began at an early age. Growing up in Alabama and Brazil gave her a deep appreciation for the wildlife and cultures of North and South America, and ultimately led her to a career as a conservation biologist. Her Undergraduate and doctoral studies at Auburn University focused on the molecular ecology of Neotropical fish and allowed her to describe several new species to science, but she was most profoundly affected by working closely in the field with the indigenous people of South America, including the Wapishana and Macushi communities of southern Guyana. These experiences led her to focus her research on projects with potential benefits for both fragile ecosystems and threatened human cultures. It is her mission to contribute to the preservation of wildlife and human lifelihoods and, more broadly, to inspire humans to rethink our place in the natural world. deSouza worked as a post doctoral researcher at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago until 2015, and continues her Amazon work as a research scientist with the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).

C2ST Speakeasy is held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. Attendance is free, but registration is strongly encouraged. To register, click HERE or on the “Get Tickets”; button below.

Seating is first come, first serve, and registration does not guarantee a seat.

This program is presented in partnership with Geek Bar Chicago.

People under 21 are welcome at Geek Bar until 9:00pm. (See Geek Bar’s age policy)

Food and beverages are available for purchase. (See menu)

Details: Tuesday, January 19, 7 pm to 9 pm, Geek Bar Beta, 1941 W. North Ave., Chicago. Free.

Registration is strongly encouraged. To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/c2st-speakeasy-with-william- s-higgins- tickets-19999379683 Registration does not ensure a seat, so please arrive early.

For more information, contact Andrea Poet at apoet@c2st.org or 312-567- 5795.

ABOUT C2ST: Chicago Council on Science and Technology is a not-for-profit organization that brings researchers and scientists out of the lab, directly to you. We work with national laboratories, leading academic institutions and museums to educate the public on issues of critical scientific importance. In an age when barely one in four voting adults meet a basic level of scientific literacy, we aim to reignite an excitement and passion for science and technology, and remind Chicagoans of the quality and quantity of R&D that takes place in their backyard.