Alison Lipman

LecturerUCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) / Honors Collegium

PresidentCo-founderSELVA International

Senior Research FellowUCLA Center for Tropical Research


Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

University of California, Los Angeles
621 Charles E. Young Dr. South
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1606

SELVA International
Conservation done right.

Center for Tropical Research
Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

University of California, Los Angeles
Lakretz Hall, Suite 300
619 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

About Alison Lipman

Alison Lipman is an ecologist who has worked in the conservation field for about 20 years. She is co-founder and president of SELVA International, a locally based conservation non-profit run by Ph.D. ecologists. She spent much of the past 13 years living and directing conservation/research efforts in Amazonian villages, in Bolivia. Her past and current research has investigated endangered species (e.g., northern spotted owl, Palos Verdes blue butterfly, South American river turtles), toxicity of cleaning products, methods and effectiveness of habitat restoration, propagation of California native plants, environmental effects of subsistence-based livelihoods, community-based natural resource management, stream water quality and bioassessment, sustainable forest products, conservation of South American river turtles, and learning responses to environmental media. She has worked under contract with UCLA, the University of Georgia, the U.S. National Park Service, the California Dept. of Fish & Game, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bolivian National Park Service, various NGOs in the U.S. and South America, and as a private consultant. She has managed protected areas owned by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy and the U.S. Department of Defense, on which she helped institute the first off-site reintroductions of the endangered Palos Verdes blue butterfly. She is an active member of the IUCN, Species Survival Commission, and South American Freshwater Turtle Redlisting Group. She has developed and teaches ecology courses at UCLA and has taught at the University of Georgia and in South America. In addition to publishing in scientific journals, she is currently writing a popular-science conservation book. Dr. Lipman earned her Ph.D. in ecology in 2008 at the Odum School of Ecology, at the University of Georgia.

I spend most of my time as a professional ecologist working to develop programs that promote environmental conservation. I approach conservation from a variety of angles that includes education, ecological research, and collaboration on local conservation programs.


EEB 18- Why Ecology Matters: the science behind environmental issues
Credits: Life Science GE with lab
Next offered: Fall 2013

Honors Collegium Seminar- Understanding Ecology: finding interdisciplinary solutions to environmental problems
Credits: Life Science GE
Next offered: Fall 2013

Education Programs

I spend much of my time developing and leading environmental education programs.  I prioritize my education work, because I know that current environmental problems will only be solved when today’s young people emerge as future leaders well versed in ecological concepts. 

Amazon Exchange Program (AEP)


I am leading an exciting field study program this summer to Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Bolivian Amazon.  This cultural immersive experience offers students the rare opportunity to explore Amazonian issues and their solutions by living and working with indigenous people - through homestays and community project research/collaboration. 

I co-developed the AEP with SELVA International, the World Language Enrichment and Acquisition office at Hampshire College, the Five College Consortium in MA, and indigenous communities of the Bajo Paraguá, through funding by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The program mission is to promote Amazon conservation, sustainable communities, and environmental education through a community-led service learning/research program. 

The program is open to interested faculty and undergraduate and graduate students of any major.  We are looking for more participants this summer!  Check out the photos from our trip last summer...

Climbing the world famous Meseta Caparú.

Homestays in the community of Porvenir.

Community members receive certificates for their participation with faculty in the AEP.

Environmental Education Campaign

SELVA International and a group of UCLA students are working to create a multimedia, online learning experience that will frame environmental messages in a form that everyone can understand.  This will include a diverse set of non-traditional ‘curriculum’ (video, music, art, photography, games, social networks, etc.) that is stimulating, interesting, emotionally evocative, and results driven.  Our goal is that media reach students / individuals on an emotional, personal level, to inspire true learning.  Media will teach students and the public the facts / science behind environmental issues to motivate them to act to conserve our natural resource base. 

Scientific evaluation will ensure that media is factual, while peer and student evaluation and testing of media will ensure that the curriculum is effective.  We will track user feedback and site visits as additional sources of educational feedback, and we will constantly search for and update media.  This will be an invaluable, free resource for educators, who are constantly in search of the most current, effective materials.  

Research Interests

Environmental Issues, Conservation, Community-Based Conservation, Sustainability, Endangered Species, Ecosystem Services, Consumerism, Human Population, Natural Resource Management, Water Resources, Energy Resources, Managed and Natural Ecosystems, Sustainable Agriculture, Community-Based Resource Use, Sustainable Forest Uses, Habitat Restoration, Deforestation Drivers, Freshwater Turtle Conservation, Water Quality, Habitat Quality, Environmental Change, Community-Based Research, Environmental Education, Sustainable Landscaping, Freshwater Turtle Conservation, Conservation Planning & Management, Forest Conservation, Amazon Conservation, Southern California Conservation, Urban Ecosystems, etc.

Research Experience

I spent much of the past 15 years directing and collaborating on community based conservation and research projects in South America, living and working in Amazonian villages, in Bolivia and Brazil.  I have also spent much time directing conservation and restoration projects in a variety of Southern California landscapes.  In the past, I investigated threats to endangered species (e.g., northern spotted owl, Palos Verdes blue butterfly, South American river turtles), toxicity of cleaning products, habitat restoration methods, propagation of California native plants, ecological effects of subsistence-based livelihoods, community-based natural resource management, stream water quality, and riparian habitat bioassessment.  I am an active member of the IUCN and Species Survival Commission’s Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist and Redlisting Groups.

Current Research

Conservation of critically endangered South American river turtles

Podocnemis unifilis hatchlings leaving the nest.

Podocnemis unifilis nesting on the Paraguá River.

Local researchers measuring turtle tracks at a nesting beach on the Iténez River.

Students presenting their  research  related to threats to turtles.

Amazon community-based sustainable development programs (acai, ecotourism, education, health/nutrition)

Faculty learn about sustainable, wild-harvested acai in Porvenir.

Discussing ecotourism options with park guards and local leaders.

Environmental programs with faculty, local children, and park guards (photo credit - Pamela Stone).

Creating sustainable urban landscapes

Research and work restoring habitat and sustainable landscapes in Southern California
(More info to come)

Micro Carbon Trading


CTR Bird

Center for Tropical Research | UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
La Kretz Hall, Suite 300 | 619 Charles E. Young Dr. East | Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

The Center for Tropical Research, located on the third floor of La Kretz Hall, is part of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. For general inquiries, contact Christa Gomez, CTR Office Manager, at (310) 206-6234, or by email at Visitors are always welcome.

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