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Clarkson University Professor Tom Langen to Lead Panama Workshop on Mitigating Environmental Problems from Development

Clarkson University Biology Professor Tom A. Langen understands the value of knowledge gained from success, as well as from missteps, and he’ll travel to Panama City, Panama, later this month to share his insights at a two-day workshop and symposium focused on mitigating environmental problems that arise from development.

Clarkson University Biology Professor Tom A. LangenLangen, who teaches biology and psychology, is no stranger to Latin America. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Costa Rica, working as a visiting professor in the Conservation and Wildlife Management Program at the country’s National University.

“Demand for this type of workshop is growing. We expect to see about 75 participants,” he says.

The 16th Conference of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, set for September 21 and 22, will focus on environmental challenges such as roads, dams, canals, wind turbines, and power lines. For developing countries, this presents an opportunity to learn from what has gone right and not so right in other nations.

“It’s meant to be practical information and training. Scientists, grad students, government ministers and environmental watchdogs will attend,” he says. “Lots of new roads are being built in Latin America. They’re seeing very rapid changes regarding canals, roads, wind turbines, water development, etc. We’ll talk about environmental impacts but the emphasis is on solutions and ways to manage the impact.”

There’s a great opportunity for humans, development, and nature to coexist just by changing routine, he indicates. For example, there’s a highway in Costa Rica that goes through a national park. The builders let trees grow beside the road, forming a green canopy over the road where monkeys, birds and insects can travel. In other spots, a short tunnel under a road offers safe passage for puma, ocelots, deer, wild pigs and more.

Langen will be joined by colleagues from Canada, Spain, Costa Rica and Mexico. They have experience working with roads in national parks, on wind farms and canals, and on oil development projects.

“We’ve put on similar workshops together before,” he adds. “This is our fifth one. We did previous ones in Mexico and Costa Rica.”

After the symposium, Langen will head to Saranac Lake to teach in Clarkson’s new Adirondack Semester. After Christmas, he’ll head farther south – to Costa Rica with a class of Clarkson business students.
“We’ll learn about different paths to development,” he says. “There’s eco-tourism there with the rainforest and cloud forest; there are banana, pineapple and coffee farms; there’s Intel and a rocket design firm. It’s diverse.”

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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