Sam Wasser, UW Biology Professor and Co-Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Forensic Science, was recently awarded the 2022 Lowell Thomas Award. Provided by The Explorers Club, the annual award is given thematically to a group of outstanding explorers to recognize excellence in domains or fields of exploration.
In the 2022 Lowell Thomas Award announcement, Sam " is acknowledged worldwide for developing noninvasive tools for monitoring human impacts on wildlife. Dr. Wasser applies these tools to forensic analyses of transnational wildlife crime. He used elephant dung to assemble a DNA reference map of elephants across Africa, which is now widely used to determine the geographic origins of poached ivory. By comparing genotyped ivory to this reference map, he has been able to identify Africa’s largest elephant poaching hotspots, track the number and connectivity of major ivory traffickers operating in Africa, and uncover strategies that transnational organized crime syndicates use to acquire and move their contraband around the world."