Dr. Dino J. Martins is a Kenyan entomologist and evolutionary biologist, is currently the Executive Director of the Mpala Research Centre and a research assistant professor with the Turkana Basin Institute – Stony Brook University. He holds a PhD from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University (2011), and a BA in Anthropology (with distinction) from Indiana University (1999).
Dr. Martins’ current scientific research is focused on the evolution and ecology of interactions between species: including insects and plants, vectors and hosts and parasites. He looks at what drives cooperation between insects and plants mainly between flowers and their pollinators as well as between ants and plants. Dr. Martins’ current research includes work with farmers in relation to bees and pesticides and improving pollinator awareness and conservation, general studies of bee evolution and ecology in East Africa, hawkmoth and butterfly pollination, co-evolution and the links between biodiversity and landscape-level processes. Dr Martins currently leads projects on the biology vectors for malaria, trachoma, leishmaniasis and other neglected diseases in relation to adaptation to climate, landscape and environmental changes in the Turkana Basin and Greater Horn of Africa region.
Dr Martins has published widely in scientific, natural history, and environmental magazines including: the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, the International Journal of Tropical Insect Science, Nature East Africa, the East Africa Natural History Society Bulletin, Swara, Nature Net, Ecoforum, and the Journal of the East African Wildlife Society. His work has been featured in the Smithsonian magazine, the Guardian, TED, the BBC as well as in National Geographic.
Dr Martins recently completed a guidebook ‘The Insects of East Africa’, published by Penguin-Random House-Struik. This is the first major general synthesis of insect diversity for Eastern Africa and has been well-received both in the region and internationally. Dr Martins also launched a book on pollinators last year: ‘Our Friends the Pollinators: A Handbook of Pollinator Diversity and Conservation in East Africa. This book has been downloaded over 4000 times from the web and content accessed by hundreds of thousands of farmers through digital and social media platforms.
Amongst his awards and fellowships are the Ashford Fellowship in the Natural Sciences GSAS, Harvard University, a Smithsonian Institution SIWC – MRC Fellowship (2004), and 2002 & 2003 Peter Jenkins Award for Excellence in African Environmental Journalism. In 2009 he won the Whitley Award, for his work on pollinators in East Africa. He was named one of National Geographic’s ‘Emerging Explorers’ in 2011. Dr Martins was recently elected as a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and an honorary life member of the Kenya Horticultural Society.
Dr Martins is this past year’s (2015) Whitley Gold Award winner for conservation: (http://whitleyaward.org/winners/pollinators-and-people-in-kenya/)
This is a grassroots global conservation prize awarded each year to a member of the Whitley Award alumni. The Whitley Gold Award is a profile and PR prize awarded in recognition of their outstanding contribution to conservation. The prize was awarded for his work on insects, and improving their conservation and understanding by farmers and the general public across East Africa.
Currently Dr Martins continues to teach for the Turkana Basin Institute’s Origins Field School and has taught for all 8 semesters of the field school at the South Turkwel campus. He also supervises students working on insect-vector related projects on malaria and trachoma.
General links to research/publications/conservation work:
Link to pollinator conservation book online: