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Published July 31, 2023
A University of Wyoming faculty member has been elected as a Fellow by The Explorers Club.
John Koprowski, dean of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, a Wyoming Excellence Chair and a professor of zoology and physiology, is honored in recognition of his contributions to scientific knowledge through field expeditions. He is an acclaimed conservation biologist who has taught, led students and conducted research around the world including in Mongolia, China, Ecuador and Italy.
The Explorers Club supports scientific expeditions of all disciplines, provides support for students and early-career scientists, and unites members and Fellows in the spirit of discovery. Fellows of the club must have worked in the field as participants in one or more scientific expeditions evidenced by scientific publication or documented in books, popular media or broadcast media.
Notable members of The Explorers Club include Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmund Hillary, first to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, first to walk on the moon in 1969.
Koprowski has a long history of international wildlife conservation, especially emphasizing community-based conservation efforts. He believes collaboration is critical to success in international wildlife conservation efforts and emphasizes community-based research aimed to increase in-country capacity for the conservation and management of biodiversity. His research has not only included many projects within the United States, but it also has extended to China, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Peru and South Africa.
“As a child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I watched the Cuyahoga River burn just a few miles from my childhood home due to the pollution on the surface, and we fished in Lake Erie but had to limit the fish that we ate due to accumulations of mercury. I realized at an early age that I wanted to make a difference so that our wild and working lands around the world were more abundant, more sustainable and more accessible,” Koprowski says. “Exploration and discovery are fundamental to conservation. Election as a Fellow of The Explorers Club is recognition of the success of our approach that elevates the role of partnership and collaboration.”
Koprowski has taught international courses and created long-standing partnerships with universities and research institutes across the globe, including the University of Insubria (Italy), Mongolian Academy of Sciences, National University of Mongolia, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (Japan), Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University (China), National Institute of Biological Resources (South Korea), James Cook University (Australia) and Transfrontier Africa (South Africa). He has written more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles and books, and he has advised more than 50 graduate students to provide data-informed solutions to worldwide conservation challenges. He co-edited and co-wrote the 2019 book “International Wildlife Management.”
Koprowski’s achievements have been recognized both nationally and internationally. He was named a Fellow of The Wildlife Society in 2014, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018 and of the Linnean Society of London in 2019. In 2022, he received the Aldo Leopold Memorial Award from The Wildlife Society, the highest award given by the 11,000-member organization of professional wildlife scientists, for his international efforts.
In 2022, the International Wildlife Conservation Chair was established at UW to honor the work and accomplishments of Koprowski. Following his retirement, the chair will be renamed the John L. Koprowski International Wildlife Conservation Chair.
Founded in 1904, The Explorers Club is a multidisciplinary, professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific exploration and resource conservation. The club is headquartered in New York City just off Central Park. The society is composed of over 30 chapters around the world, including the Rocky Mountain Chapter to which Koprowski will belong.
The magnitude of the election as a Fellow of The Explorers Club is not lost on Koprowski.
“Not bad for a kid who grew up landlocked in Cleveland, Ohio, and didn’t see the ocean until I was nearly 30 years old,” he says.