Though UCSB doles out plenty of awards to faculty and students every year, they almost never go to citizen scientists, those folks who help academics collect data and provide critical insights while going about their daily lives. But next week, UCSB’s longtime leader Henry Yang will bestow the university’s top medal upon Narciso Torres, a Maya forest gardener and longtime collaborator with archaeologist Anabel Ford who will receive the Chancellor’s Award on January 12.
“Chancellor Yang is highlighting the importance of different ways of knowing and seeing,” explains Ford, who’s built a legendary career around her discoveries at El Pilar in western Belize. After achieving initial acclaim for unearthing the ancient ruins on the border of Guatemala, Ford soon realized that there was more to learn from people like Torres, who rely on generational knowledge to cultivate the region’s flora and fauna in sustainable ways that have much to teach us today.
“In this award,” said Ford, “the academy is opening its eyes and welcoming traditions born of the basic scientific method of trial and error, recognizing the wide range of contributions to the world of science.”