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Changes in the Amazon

Madeline Lisaius with group of women and children
(Photo Credit: Manuela Omari Ima)

Madeline Lisaius

BS ’19, MS '19 
Earth Systems Program

“I know my forest at home and I know what development looks like,” said Madeline Lisaius ’19, who is majoring in Earth Systems. “Ecuador is very different than what I know, but I know the feeling that these indigenous people have – they are the experts of their own experiences.”  The winner of a prestigious 2017 National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, Lisaius took a full gap year to travel to Ecuador and continue her research with people she considers family in remote areas of the Amazon.

Lisaius’s project involves interviewing middle-aged community members about how the land might be shifting in ways that are not detectable by remote sensing. By gathering first-person data, she hopes to help the community advocate for much-needed aid in the face of increasing oil drilling in the area, which will lead to pollution, loss of biodiversity, and the intrusion of foreigners through newly built access roads. The livelihood of the indigenous people depends on resources in the biodiverse Amazon, from food and medicinal plants to the rivers from which people bathe, drink, and play.

“I’m hoping that I’ll be an agent for good things in the future for that region and I hope to be engaged for a very long time.”

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