Biology Professor Receives Conservation Award
February 28, 2013
SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Feb. 22, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored Cal Poly alumnus and Biological Sciences Professor Francis Villablanca with the service's Conservation Award. The award is given on a case-by-case basis. Villablanca was recognized for "outstanding efforts to conserve the natural resources of San Luis Obispo County, and in particular his leadership on recovery efforts for the endangered Morro Bay kangaroo rat," said Chris Kofron of Fish and Wildlife.
Villablanca began working on local conservation efforts during his senior project research in 1984. Throughout the years, he has collaborated with multiple governmental agencies and NGOs. His research has benefitted many endangered species including kangaroo rats, California condors, black-footed ferrets, and La Grasiosa thistles. His most recent work focuses on monarch butterflies, a non-endangered but declining species.
Involving graduate and undergraduate students in local conservation efforts has been central to Villablanca's research. "When graduate and undergraduate students do real-world research, they gain an appreciation for the challenges of conservation that they couldn't get without this kind of hands-on experience." said Villablanca. "It prepares them to be future conservation leaders."