Vanessa Luna Celino

Latin America Instructor

M.A. in Latin American Studies, University of Florida (in progress)

B.A. in Biology, Agraria La Monina University, Peru


For the last six years Vanessa has focused on research ecology and conservation in the Peruvian Amazon, in particular on natural protected areas. She owes her personal growth to the unique interaction with nature she has experienced in her work as a biologist: She often has camped in pristine places within national parks where no one has gone before, cooking with firewood and bathing in the river after long walks, in order to collect data on forest ecology. For three years, she worked for two biological stations managed by a Peruvian NGO in the Manu National Park buffer zone. Living most of the time in the middle of the forest, her job functions included facilitating the interaction between researchers and local universities and promoting the sharing of scientific data among park rangers, indigenous conservationists, government environmental regulators, and others. Through this experience, she learned the importance of establishing and promoting adequate research priorities as drivers of meaningful and appropriate ecosystem management actions, including climate change and deforestation impact on biodiversity and hunting pressure assessment on game species, among others. More recently, Vanessa was part of a project to create a Private Conservation Area in the Andean-Amazonian forests of the north of Peru, in a region full of endemism and an important population of Andean bears.

The Amazon forest is her passion. She knew it from the first contact she had with the forest when she was a field assistant to a scientific researcher on the ecology of macaws and parrots. As well as the rainforest, the Andean glaciers have also captivated her. When she is not in the Amazon, one of her favorite hobbies is to walk in the mountains for several days with a backpack on her back, carrying a tent and a portable kitchen.

Vanessa loves to work with Dragons students during the summers, while she completes her her master’s studies at the University of Florida during the school year.