Catherine Woodward

Faculty Associate, WISCIENCE and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies 

Catherine Woodward is a Faculty Associate with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Dept. of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a dedicated educator, striving to foster environmental awareness and scientific research capacity among K-12, undergraduate, and adult learners both in the U.S. and abroad. She teaches courses in terrestrial and marine biology, conservation, and global health in the classroom, online, and in the field. Catherine spends half the year teaching abroad, including the Tropical Conservation Semester honors program each spring, and the Water for Life Service-Learning and Conservation Internship programs each summer in Ecuador. She received a Morgridge Center award for Globally Engaged Scholarship in 2014.

Catherine is a tropical ecologist by training, but has applied her academic scholarship to ameliorating the growing human threat to biodiversity by establishing the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, for which she currently serves as President.

Catherine’s graduate studies and international conservation experience exposed her to the incredible biodiversity of the tropics and inspired her to devote herself to conservation. Her research has revealed some of the myriad impacts humans are having on natural systems; her master’s research documented restricted forest regeneration on soils degraded by oil company activities along the Maxus road in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Her NSF-funded doctoral research uncovered altered patterns of reproduction and gene flow in populations of understory trees in Costa Rica. Currently, she directs a community-based research program in Ecuador to investigate interrelationships between land use, water quality, and human health. Catherine received her master’s degree from the University of Florida in 1995, founded the Ceiba Foundation in 1997, and earned her PhD from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005.