Our People

Ian Saajid Acuna Rodriguez Ph D

Senior Ecologist

Ecologist and data analyst, Dr. Ian Acuña has been linked during the last 15 years to the research activity. Working first at the high Andes of Colombia, he studied the successional dynamics of abandoned agricultural fields, a process that strongly inhibits the native soil seed bank when high amounts of agrochemicals were previously used. Far to the South, he also studied in the Andes of central Chile the role of the plant-plant interactions on the maintenance of the local ecological dynamics, like seedling recruitment, on the local plant community and how the patterns of the landscape might drive the spatial distribution of the individual genetic variability. After this, interested in how biotic interactions appear to be particularly important on these extreme environments, Dr. Acuña get involved in the study of the Antarctic flora and its associated microbiota as a model for the understanding of plant-microbe symbiotic interactions and their potential applications.

Since 2017 at Universidad de Talca in Chile, Dr. Acuña combine his ongoing Antarctic projects, which focuses on the responses of the Antarctic vascular flora to UVB stress and the role of their foliar microbiome in their plastic responses, with diverse analytic projects in which participate as external consultant. With a special taste for maps and statistics, he is an enthusiastic programmer and geospatial analyst, and has been involved in the spatial modelling of diverse ecological variables, ranging from genetic diversity to environmental pollutants. His research activity is also combined with one his teaching interest, for which he is a frequent biostatistics divulgator and promoter of the R language as a tool for this. Currently he is an active collaborator with researchers from Argentina, Perú, England, Finland, USA and France.

Jose Arturo Restrepo Aristizabal


Arturo is an all-weather Program Manager with over 15 years of experience focused in earth science and knowledge management systems for international development.

He uses big-data approaches in sustainable development; in developing workflows that manage computer systems and software to understand information; and in creating Decision Support solutions. Arturo has also led efforts to use predictive analytics solutions in public-private investments, particularly in global infrastructure ecosystems.

His ground-truth approach to tasks at hand has been implemented in over seven countries throughout The Americas and South-East Asia. In these regions, Arturo shares his expertise in ecosystem services and environmental safeguards of carbon forests; coffee, avocado, and cocoa production; solar, wind, and water energy source systems; transportation systems and green-fields.

Arturo received a BS degree in Tropical Ecology from the Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia, and a Master’s in Environmental Science and Water Technology from the UNESCO-IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands.

Richard A. Meganck Ph D

President of the Board

Dr. Meganck is a part-time Professor of International Water Policy at Oregon State University and a senior advisor to the development of the UNESCO Category II Center in Frutal, Brazil. He retired from the United Nations in 2009 after a career in international development spanning some 34 years. His most recent position was that of Rector of the UNESCO-IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands. Prior to joining UNESCO, he served in a number of senior posts in both the Organization of American States and the United Nations Environment Program.

He began his professional career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia followed by four years as an Assistant Professor at the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Dr. Meganck and his family have lived in eight nations throughout the Americas, Asia, and Europe and he has undertaken more than 350 technical and administrative missions to 111 countries throughout the world. Dr. Meganck has published more than 80 journal articles and five books. He holds a BS and Master’s degrees from Michigan State University in Watershed Management and Resource Development Policy and a PhD from Oregon State University in Natural Resource Management.

Eric J. Cardozo Matta

President of Ecotropics Colombia

Eric received a BS degree for Civil Engineering from the National University of Colombia. He has 18 years of experience in project design and consulting and structural design in the following industries: public, private, airport, housing, and educational infrastructure in Colombia and other countries.

Eric has 18 years of experience in project design and consulting as well as structural design in Colombia and other countries. He has contributed to projects in many public and private sectors including housing, education, airport and hotel industries.

He knows and applies the principles of eco-engineering to all of his work. This was particularly helpful as General Manager at Triton (2014-2017), a Colombian engineering and construction company. Later, Eric worked in strategic assessment for the City Council of Bogotá where he helped vulnerable urban communities.

Eric edits and proofreads books and essays about human rights, civil conflict, and military forces. Now he is writing a research paper in the historical development of Colombian rituals. He is the acting National Director of Infrastructure and an Executive Advisor to the GLC Foundation.

Charles Haine

Green Infrastructure Advisor

Charles is a Technical Director at global advisory firm WSP Global Inc. who specializes in integrating environmental, sustainability and climate risk management with development projects. He has particular knowledge about the movement of goods, the supply chain, and the role of the maritime sector in supply chain systems. Much of his work focuses on future-ready projects, businesses and activities, where traditional engineering designs need to be disrupted in order to allow a step-change improvement in construction and operational performance.

Charles delivers support to lenders on all environment, social, and sustainability projects. His current work with Ecotropics involves delivering ideas and suggestions in the climate/business resilience and GHG emissions/carbon footprinting space. Charles is intrigued by the way human health impact and social interactions (e.g. labor, gender, equality) can be interwoven into both core production activity and community activities ‘beyond-the-gate’, making Corporate Responsibility more meaningful, honest, and tangible.

Ximena Rueda Fajardo Ph D

Sustainability Advisor

Dr. Ximena is an Associate Professor at the School of Management at the University of Los Andes, her alma mater, in Bogotá, Colombia. There she had received a BA in Economics. After finishing school, she received an Environmental Policy Master in City Planning (MCP) from MIT and PhD in Geography from Clark University, in addition to a postdoc position at Stanford in corporate strategies for sustainable sourcing of major commodities. Dr. Ximena was the strategic marketing Director for The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia. Working with Ecotropics, Dr. Ximena brings creative solutions in sustainable land use that respect people, the environment, and the consumer.

His has helped implement REDD+ and agribusiness projects in addition to ground-truth field work while sharing knowledge with indigenous and farming communities. Working with Ecotropics, Cesar brings his knowledge of data science, GIS, UAV, sensor webs, and algorithms and applies them to Integrated Landscape Management.

Cesar Augusto Valbuena Calderón

Geospatial Analyst

Cesar is an Agronomist and holds a Master’s degree in Geo-information for Natural Resource Management at the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observations in the Netherlands. His expertise deploys numerical solutions for geospatial information analysis and applying remote sensing (satellite data and drones) to different projects related to agriculture, forests, and climate change. For the last five years, Cesar has been working under the Colombian Forest and Carbon Monitoring System Team.

His has helped implement REDD+ and agribusiness projects in addition to ground-truth field work while sharing knowledge with indigenous and farming communities. Working with Ecotropics, Cesar brings his knowledge of data science, GIS, UAV, sensor webs, and algorithms and applies them to Integrated Landscape Management.

Andres Jimenez

Policy Making Advisor

As Senior Director of Government Affairs at the Citizens Climate Lobby, Andres works with the U.S. Congress to expand the voice of the organization and push for relevant legislation. Andres previously served as Associate Director of Government Relations at the Ocean Conservancy, where he focused on creating bipartisan solutions for critical issues such as ocean acidification and sustainable fisheries across the United States.

Andres has a long history of public service. He has worked with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the House Judiciary’s Immigration Subcommittee, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and Congressman Howard Berman. He also has worked with GreenLatinos—an environmental non-profit—and previously served on the board for the Florida Ocean Alliance where he represented the interests of the Ocean Conservancy.

Andres acts as a bridge to the highest levels of government and corporations. His policy-making expertise sets the climate solutions and environmental agenda by unifying scientific experts, organizations that support programs on the Capitol ecosystem, and policymakers.

Joshua Helmuth

Coffee Roaster

Joshua has been an artisan coffee roaster since 1999. He originally hails from Colorado but has been living in Amsterdam since 2001. He owns and operates Caffé Dolce Alchemia (Sweet Alchemy), preparing it for sustainability and free information exchange on the coffee roasting side of the industry.

Joshua is also a member of Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) and is currently working to develop an Open Source Roaster. Joshua expects that this will help bring better technology to coffee producing regions around the world.

He strongly believes in sharing his knowledge freely to make the world a more fair and better place for everyone. He believes in a prosperous society which balances nature and is free from waste and pollution. Like all of us at Ecotropics, he wants to leave the world better off for generations to come.

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Applied Ecology for Tropical Resources Programs Inc., is a non-profit organization, U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRS) 501(c)(3)


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