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Professor Boersma's academic research is in the area of conservation biology and has focused on seabirds as indicators of environmental change.
She directs the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels and is Co-Chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature SSC Penguin Specialist Group. In her role as a scientific fellow for the Wildlife Conservation Society she leads the research on Magellanic Penguins at Punta Tombo, Argentina,. Since the project started in 1982, each year she and her team have followed the lives of individual Magellanic penguins in the South Atlantic, determining their reproductive success, foraging locations, population dynamics, and the effects of perturbations.and policy changes on their survival. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) based on her long-term satellite work at Punta Tombo, home to the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the world, is under consideration by the Chubut government.
The Galapagos penguin, the only penguin breeding on the equator, is the rarest species of penguin and its' breeding distribution is very restricted . In 2010 we built nesting sites that the penguin are using to increase the population. Galapagos penguins molt twice a year so the research examines penguin body condition to learn how climate variation impacts the timing and frequency of the molt as well as the morphology of the penguins.
Dr. Boersma received her B.Sc. Honors from Central Michigan University in 1969, and her Ph.D. in Zoology, from Ohio State University in 1974. Her thesis was titled: The Galapagos Penguin: A Study of Adaptations for Life in an Unpredictable Environment." Dr. Boersma holds the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science at the University of Washington, and since 1998 has been a professor of Biology in the Biology Department and an adjunct faculty member in the Women Studies Department. Dr. Boersma has published numerous articles in scientific journals, and is the founder and current Executive Editor of Conservation, an award-winning conservation magazine she launched in 2000. She recently co-edited the book “Penguins: Natural History and Conservation.”