SRI Open Day Celebrates Sustainability Work in Panama

The first international Open Day of the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress will take place in Panama City on June 28, 2023. With the Open Day SRI will open its doors to the local audience, while offering the SRI2023 participants the opportunity to engage with the sustainability community Panama. The SRI Open Day will showcase Panamanian sustainability efforts and innovation, increase public awareness of sustainability challenges and solutions, and build new connections between research and action. Organized in partnership with Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the Panama Canal Museum, the SRI Open Day will take place at the Panama Convention Center, with specific activities at the partner organizations.

The Day will conclude at 4 pm with a reception and Fireside Chat at the Panama Convention Center. The fireside chat will elevate key opportunities and controversies around inclusive sustainability in Panama and around the world. All Open Day participants are invited to join!

Fireside chat: “Inclusive sustainability transformation. What does it mean to Panama? What does it mean to the world?”

A rapid transformation to sustainability is critical for the world, yet the circumstances and opportunities for this profound change differ drastically between countries. As a natural bridge of the world, a crossing point of commerce, and a cosmopolitan and urban society, surrounded by rich biodiversity, agrarian lands and culture, Panama is in a unique position to chart an  innovative path toward a sustainable future. This fireside chat situates Panama in the global sustainability debate, recognizing its special history, geography and culture, and maps out pathways for an inclusive and informed sustainability transformation.




Juan Carlos Monterrey Gómez is director of Geoversity’s School for Biocultural Leadership and Founder of Climate Resilient, a think tank in the Dominican Republic. In 2022, Monterrey Gómez served as Vice President for the implementation of the UN Climate Change Convention. Juan Carlos was selected in 2018 by former President Barack Obama as the Inaugural Expert of the Obama Foundation.
Monterrey Gómez served as Chief Negotiator for Panama at the Glasgow climate change negotiations in 2021 and led the youngest delegation in history to represent a State in UN negotiations. In November 2021, President Laurentino Cortizo of Panama honored the work of Juan Carlos by appointing him as the main speaker for the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Republic. In 2022, Monterrey Gómez was named a Fellow of the Aspen Institute Festival of Ideas. He has an MA in International Development Policy from the University of Chicago, a BA in Economics from Tulane University, and an Associate of Science degree from Northwestern Missouri State University. He completed most of his secondary studies at the José Daniel Crespo de Chitré School in Panama.


En el 2015 empezó en el programa STAR que buscaba que jóvenes universitarios impartieran clases de ciencias en primarias públicas. Poco después de eso entró a la fundación Ayudinga, el cual era uno de los canales educativos de YouTube más grandes de centroamérica. Ahí realizó videos de aritmética, Álgebra, geometría y trigonometría de manera gratuita para estudiantes de toda hispanoamérica. También lideró un proyecto con las infoplazas para brindar talleres científicos a niños y jóvenes de comunidades remotas en todas las provincias de Panamá, en zonas rojas y en el archipiélago de las perlas para motivar la educación científica y el aprendizaje digital.

Debido a esto, en el 2018 gana el premio “emerging young leader Award” dada por el departamento de estado de los Estados Unidos, siendo el único americano en esa generación. Al regresar a Panamá, gracias a una invitación, empieza, de a poco, la labor en las cárceles de jóvenes. Dando tutorías de matemática e inglés a los adolescentes privados de libertad, así como talleres de expresión escrita de carácter emocional. En el 2019, gracias al laboratorio latinoamericano de acción ciudadana, se convierte en mentor del grupo “dame un chance” que buscaba brindar talleres emocionales en los centros de menores. Al caer la pandemia y en las condiciones tan fuertes que estaban los jóvenes en las centros, y en medio de la cuarentena asume el rol de coordinador de Dame un Chance y se organizan para lanzar la Primera escuela de valores virtual para jóvenes en conflicto con la ley en Centroamérica, conectando a todos los centros de menores a nivel nacional (estos son en Chiriquí, Colón, Herrera y Panamá)


Joshua Tewksbury is the Director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), in Panama City, Panama. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes understanding of present and past biological diversity by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems.

As director, he oversees more than 400 employees, an annual budget of $35 million, the Institute’s research facilities throughout Panama and field sites in Africa, Asia and the Americas. The Institute’s facilities are used by 30 resident scientists and annually by some 1,400 visiting scientists, pre- and postdoctoral fellows and interns from academic and research institutions around the world.


Ana Elizabeth is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Canal Museum, the youngest museum director in the Latin American region. She is a leader in innovation, creative thinker and defender of justice that has conquered the cultural and heritage sector of Panama. Her commitment and passion has completely transformed the largest museum in the country through an ambitious renovation plan with innovative exhibition design, inclusive and diverse narratives, highlighting the roles of minorities in the construction of the largest trade route in the world and the discrimination that permeated Panamanians, from its construction to the present day.


Omar R Lopez, Ph.D., is the current Director of the National Research System (SNI), a founding program of the National Secretariat for Science and Technology of the Republic of Panama (SENACYT), aimed at recognizing the scientific productivity of researchers that seeks to position Panama internationally in the generation of knowledge and promote the consolidation of leading researchers to forge a true research ecosystem in the country. Lopez leads research on plant responses to environmental stress, mainly flooding, drought, salinity and nutrients in mangrove ecosystems as an associate researcher at the Institute of Scientific Research and High Technology Services (INDICASAT AIP) and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). In the past, he has worked evaluating the effectiveness of conservation programs aimed at rescuing species of concern (SOC) in mining operations (Minera Panamá). Lopez has also lead the Rapid Ecological Assessment of the Bay of Parita in Panama, a work oriented to document the ecological connectivity of large fragmented coastal wetland (CREHO-RAMSAR). Lopez received his Ph.D. degree at the University of Utah and gain postdoctoral experience at University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Yazmin Lisbeth Mack Vergara, PhD.
Graduated in Civil Engineering from the Technological University of Panama in 2011. In 2019 she obtained her Doctor of Science degree in the Civil Engineering Program of the Polytechnic School of the University of Sao Paulo with the thesis entitled “Concrete water footprint: a streamlined methodology” through the UTP-IFARHU scholarship program. In 2022 she will complete her Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering at the Technological University of Panama. She has been a researcher at the Materials Testing Laboratory of the Experimental Engineering Center of the Technological University of Panama and part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Civil Engineering since 2019. She coordinates the Sustainable Construction UTP research group and is part of different research groups and networks. She conducts research in the area of sustainable construction and water resources management.