Short Bio

Ruben Dario Palacio studied biology at Icesi University (Cali, Colombia) and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2014. After being granted a Fulbright-Colciencias Ph.D. Scholarship, he started his doctoral studies in 2016 at Duke University under renowned conservationist Stuart L. Pimm (former advisor). Ruben changed advisors to National Academy member James S. Clark in early 2020 and graduated in May 2022 with a Ph.D. in Conservation Biology.

Since 2016, Dr. Palacio’s scholarly contributions amount to two book chapters and seven peer-reviewed articles, including senior authorship in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018) on the biogeography of the tropical Andes, entirely conducted by the science team of his non-profit, Fundacion Ecotonos.

He also has a first-author paper in the flagship journal of his field, Conservation Biology (2020), analyzing over 100 years of bird extirpations and land-use change in the KBA San Antonio cloud forest, where he’s devoted most of his conservation efforts. He also published a first-author paper in Diversity and Distributions (2021), a leading journal in the subfield of conservation biogeography.

Curriculum Vitae.


My research and conservation work has had great impact:

Short Manifesto

The Quest for Truth is a Sacred Pursuit - Cloud Forests are heaven on Earth - Conservation is the Wildly important - Honor and Skin in the Game.

A Man of No Rank

I dislike academia’s obsession with credentials (publications and awards). It creates the wrong incentives and reduces the value that research can have on the world.

“I trust those who are greedy for money a thousand times more than those who are greedy for credentials.” – Nassim Taleb

Instead, I focus on making a contribution. My mission is to protect nature, not trying to get tenured. Sadly, I am in the minority camp. Many conservation biologists have spent decades writing detailed obituaries for species, wasting valuable resources instead of doing things to solve the problem.

“little to no credit is given by academic institutions for important conservation activities that do not have a dollar value (…) It is unlikely that an academic institution would grant tenure to faculty whose primary achievements contributed to saving a species or ecosystem.” (Parsons and Cigliano 2020)

Political Views

Echo-anarchism (deep ecology), bioregionalism and localism.

I favor bottom-up approaches, instead of top-down control from governments. I believe in cities and regions, not in countries. I value freedom of speech and I am a privacy advocate.

In 2016 I signed along 1500+ fulbrighters a concern letter on the election of Donald Trump in the US.