Hoja Nueva, University of Washington
Ecologist, Doctoral Student
Samantha Zwicker is a Ph.D. student researching ecology and conservation at the University of Washington in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences while pursuing separate Nonprofit Management and International Development certificates from the UW Evans School. She received her bachelor’s with honors from the UW in 2012 and her master's in June of 2015 after being awarded the College's Graduate Student of the Year.
In addition to teaching environmental studies and environmental science courses at the UW, she is President of Xi Sigma Pi Forestry Honors Society, a term member of the renowned Explorers Club, producer of Seattle's Inspiración del Perú, and co-founder and President of nonprofit Hoja Nueva. Samantha’s fieldwork is based primarily in the Amazon rainforest along the Piedras River in Peru, where she is working with remote communities to establish more sustainable farming methods while concurrently assessing the effects of land use change on cats and their prey using in-situ observation and camera trapping.
Hoja Nueva is led by novel, practical research in conservation and agroforestry. Their mission is to work with local communities to make sustainable agriculture a success in the Piedras and all remote rainforest environments like it- firstly by creating a sustainable cacao marketplace with direct, just trade values.
The urgency of conserving the earth's rainforests now goes beyond cultural and wildlife preservation. As a component of the recent Paris accord on climate change, protecting the Amazon rainforest is vital and of high potential, but more in-situ research is necessary in coupled human-environment systems in the Amazon's most biodiverse and healthy forests. Hoja Nueva consults and cooperates with local agricultural associations and other nonprofit organizations to ensure reliable food production while maintaining healthy forests, creating a future where both humans and nature can thrive.