Rodolfo Dirzo, Bing Professor in Environmental Science, teaches ecology courses and leads the Dirzo Lab in the Department of Biology. He holds masters and doctoral degrees in ecology from the University of Wales (UK), and a B.S. in biology from the Universidad de Morelos. He has published numerous refereed articles and scientific chapters in books mostly on tropical ecology, plant-animal interactions and on botanical diversity, and written or edited ten books, as well as a great number of research reports and publications for wider publics. He joined Stanford after a distinguished career at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and he has held visiting lecturer positions in many universities in Latin America and beyond.
His field work has focused in particular on tropical forest ecosystems of Mexico, Costa Rica and Amazonia. Currently he is extending his research into Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), looking at the relationships between defaunation (loss of megafauna) in savannah ecosystems and the risks of disease for local human communities. Besides his ecological research, he is also doing research on biodiversity conservation. Within this topic he is interested in the extinction of biological diversity, ecological processes, and cultural diversity. He has deep interests in the traditional knowledge of forest peoples such as the Popoluca in Los Tuxtlas region, the Maya in the Yucatan, and several ethnic groups in Oaxaca, Mexico. He is passionate about environmental education at all levels and he is engaged in bringing science education to under-served children in the Bay Area, California.
Awarded the Presidential Medal in Ecology in Mexico in 2003 and other honors, he has been the Chair of the Biology Section of the Mexican Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the California Academy of Sciences. His current board affiliations comprise the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies (New York, USA), the Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (Mexico City), and Paso Pacifico (Ventura, California).
Elizabeth provides administrative leadership for the Center. She oversees Center programming, administering various fellowship and grant programs and visiting professorships, including a U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center grant, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, and the Tinker Visiting Professorship. She directs undergraduate and graduate degree programs, manages the Center’s budget, fundraising, and outreach, and supervises the administrative staff. She supports and advises the Director in developing and setting program priorities, in policy and decision making, in liaising with other units on campus, and in representing the Center on and off campus. She serves as an academic advisor for LAS degree candidates.
Jessica Barajas was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in her parent's native Jalisco, Mexico. She earned her Master’s degree in Policy, Leadership, and Organizational Studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014 and her Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Education with a minor in Latin American Studies from Swarthmore College. Jessica’s former professional experience includes working as a research assistant at Stanford’s Understanding Language initiative focused on helping advance educational equity for English Language Learners, as program manager of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT), and as a political campaign field organizer in Albuquerque New Mexico. Jessica speaks English and Spanish and is deeply interested in Latin American Studies.
Jessica manages the Center's events and communications and provides administrative support for the Center’s interdisciplinary academic programs and student grants and fellowships. She manages the CLAS website, posts weekly emails to mailing lists, and prepares and publishes the annual newsletter. The Program Coordinator carries out academic-related procedures, including the annual Bulletin production, course scheduling, academic progress, and financial aid. Jessica advises students on academic policies and procedures and financial aid matters.
A native of Northern California, Molly Aufdermauer received her B.A. in Spanish from Brigham Young University and her M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from San Jose State University. As part of her studies, she spent a year studying language and literature in Sevilla and Granada, Spain. Her academic interests are focused in comparative Spanish-English linguistics and language instruction. Before coming to CLAS, Molly was the Advising Coordinator at the Stanford School of Medicine, where she helped students navigate their way through medical school and residency applications. During her time at the School of Medicine, Molly also worked for Nuestra Casa in East Palo Alto, teaching English as a Second Language to Spanish-speaking residents. In her free time, Molly likes to balance her life through running, biking, traveling, and spending time with her husband and two small children.
At CLAS, Molly assists with the implementation and reporting of Title VI National Resource Center K-14 outreach activities and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships. In addition to Center-specific activities, she supports a joint project among CLAS and other area studies centers within the Stanford Global Studies Division (SGS) focused on engagement with community college instructors.
Laura brings several years of experience to her role as CLAS Business Administrator, having worked for several Fortune 500 companies. Laura arrived at Stanford as a student spouse and immediately fell in love with life on campus, where she eventually became the coordinator of programs for spouses and international families at the Bechtel International Center. She has taught Spanish classes at Bechtel and studied Portuguese. Her most recent work was related to the improvement of customer service and business relationships with corporate clients throughout Latin America for a high-tech company in Silicon Valley. Laura graduated with honors from La Salle University in Mexico City with a B.A. in business administration. She is fluent in English and Spanish.
Laura is responsible for Center finance and administrative operations. She handles purchasing and financial reporting, facilities operations, and supervises the front desk duties of CLAS student assistants. She ensures appropriate maintenance of all Center facilities and plans for future needs. She works directly with visiting faculty and scholars, processing visa needs, orienting them upon their arrival, and facilitating their stay at Stanford.
Suzanne Abel serves as CLAS Outreach Advisor pro bono, assisting with public outreach under the Center's Title VI work. She is currently Academic Director of Puente de la Costa Sur in Pescadero, CA; Senior Advisor to the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford; and Consulting Scholar with the Caste War Project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Cultural Heritage Center (Tihosuco, Quintana Roo, Mexico). Suzanne received her B.A. in English from Harvard in 1971 and her M.A. in Anthropology from Brown in 1978; she also did graduate work at UC Berkeley in Anthropology. Prior to joining the Haas Center staff at Stanford in 1995, she was founding director of the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, CA in the 1980s and 1990s, and a field archaeologist and ethnohistorian with the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She also did field work in Honduras; Chiapas, Mexico; Peru; Rhode Island and California. Suzanne is a co-author of Between Continents/Between Seas: Precolumbian Art of Costa Rica (1981), The Archaeology of Pacific Nicaragua (1992), and Remember Your Relations: the Elsie Allen Baskets, Family & Friends (1996), among other publications.
A longtime academic advisor at Stanford, Suzanne continues to advise freshmen and sophomores until they declare their majors and often continues as a mentor long after her advisees have declared. For many years at the Haas Center, she served as staff advisor to Stanford in Government. Suzanne received the Lloyd M. Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education and the Margaret Ann Fidler Award for Distinguished Service in Student Affairs, both in 2011.