Maldonado, Jesus E. (Active)
National Zoological Park
Molecular systematics
Jesús was born in Mexico City, Mexico, on August 21, 1960. He grew up in its suburbs when much of the landscape was still undisturbed and very early on developed an interest for wildlife and the outdoors. In 1979, he moved to Pennsylvania where he attended Shippensburg University and subsequently obtained his BS and MS in Biology. From 1984 -1985, while conducting his master’s degree, he worked as a teaching assistant at the Biology Department and as a curatorial assistant for the Vertebrate Museum at Shippensburg University from 1985-1986. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a curatorial assistant in the Section of Mammals at the Natural History Museum of the Los Angeles County until 1989. While a PhD student, he worked as a teaching assistant from 1989 – 1996 and in 2001, he promoted to PhD in Organismic Biology, Ecology and Evolution at theUniversity of California, Los Angeles. In 1998, he joined the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC where he worked at the Genetics Program for the National Zoological Park and the Natural Museum of Natural History and led to his current position as a Research Geneticist at the Center for Conservation Genomics at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. His research applies molecular genetics tools to answer basic and applied questions in conservation and evolutionary biology in mammals. Much of his research involves assessment of genetic variation within and among populations and species to document levels of inbreeding and determine units of evolutionary, taxonomic and conservation significance. He has developed and utilized non-invasive genetic techniques and ancient DNA technologies for obtaining reliable information to study many elusive endangered mammal species. He is also interested in studying micro-evolutionary processes that shape genetic variation and evolutionary trajectories, as well as landscape genetics and genomics. He has a long list of Smithsonian collaborators and has established partnerships with several researchers in Latin American, India and Africa. This allowed him to design a strong conservation genetics program that is international in scope. Beyond theoretical aspects of his research, outcomes from many studies have direct applications to helping address critical conservation issues in a variety of threatened and endangered mammals. He developed a research program that follows an academic model, and most of his projects over the past several years are based on collaborations established with graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research scientists/curators at the Smithsonian and other academic institutions and conservation communities. He is also very active in outreach and educational programs and has mentored many undergraduate students. Jesús has over 100 peer reviewed publications in scientific journals and has served in the editorial board for the Journal of Mammalogy, Conservation Genetics, PLos ONE and The Mexican Journal of Mammalogy-Therya. Jesús is a native Spanish speaker and has collaborated extensively with Latin American and Spanish biologists. He has also attended and presented papers at several international conferences and given training courses on conservation genetics in Mexico and Venezuela, Uruguay, Brazil and India. He is an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University and the University of Maryland and has co-taught a graduate level seminar in Topics in Conservation Biology for George Mason graduate students that are affiliated with the National Zoo and organized graduate and professional courses on non-Invasive genetic techniques for wildlife conservation at the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, VA. Jesús was elected to the Washington Biologists Field Club in October of 2015 and serves on the Board of Managers for 2016-2018.