DGE Researcher Profile

Luis E. Fernandez

Title: Research Associate
Lab: Field
Phone: +1 650 319-7416
Fax: +1 650 462-5968
curriculum vitae

Research Summary

Luis E. Fernandez is a tropical ecologist, and Research Associate at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology. Luis also holds positions as Senior Research Associate at Stanford University's Department of Anthropology and Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology at Wake Forest University.

Luis is the Director of the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Ecosystem Project (CAMEP), a multi-institution research initiative that examines the impacts of artisanal gold mining, mercury contamination and deforestation on natural and human ecosystems in the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios, Peru.

Luis' research interests focus on the examination of links between anthropogenic land use change, deforestation, and conservation biology using approaches derived from the fields of landscape ecology, complex systems science and graphical information science (GIScience). Specific methodological interests include the use of Agent-Based Models (ABM) to understand interactions between natural and human systems, and the development of new methods for the use of empirical data in agent-based models. Current research projects also include examining interrelations between aboriginal "fire stick" hunting, emergent large-scale landscape structure and endangered mammal species conservation in the Australia's Western Desert.

Previously, Luis held professional positions at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory (environmental scientist), the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's Office of International Affairs in Washington DC (international environmental affairs specialist - Latin America), USEPA's Region 6 office in Dallas, TX (environmental scientist) and the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment (research associate)

Since 2009, Luis has served as a subject expert on renewable energy and biofuels in the U.S. State Department's U.S. Specialist and Speaker Program in several countries in Latin America (Columbia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela) and Africa (Angola, Cape Verde). He has also served as a consultant to the U.S. EPA and the ARCADIS Corporation on issues related to mercury dynamics in the atmosphere and hydrosphere.

His work has been recognized through multiple awards and grants, including those from the U.S. Fulbright Scholars Program, the Aspen Institute, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Blue Moon Fund, the Environmental Ventures Program at Stanford University, the Amazon Conservation Association, and the U.S. EPA, who in 2009 awarded him the agency's highest award, the U.S. EPA Gold Medal for Exceptional Service, for his work on mercury dynamics in the Amazon Basin.

He is a currently Senior Fellow at the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) , and serves on the advisory boards of the Amazon Aid Foundation, the Environmental Health Council, and the environmental start-up firm, OROECO.

Luis is an active speaker and lecturer, and has appeared on television, print and radio media in 9 countries. His research in the Amazon has been profiled by multiple U.S. news outlets, including Nature, Scientific American, Smithsonian, National Geographic, the Associated Press, Reuters, the Washington Post, the Sacramento Bee, Ecoamericas, and the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR).



Ferreira, L. G., E. E. Sano, L. E. Fernandez, F.M. Araujo. Cultivated pastures in the Brazilian savanna: biophysical characteristics and fire occurrence as observed by moderate resolution satellite. International Journal of Remote Sensing. Vol. 34, No. 1, 10 January 2013, 154–167

Ferreira, Laerte. G., L. E. Fernandez , E. E. Sano, C. B. Field, S. B. Sousa, A. E. Arantes, F.M. Araújo (2013). "Biophysical Properties of Cultivated Pastures in the Brazilian Savanna Biome: An Analysis in the Spatial-Temporal Domains Based on Ground and Satellite Data". Remote Sensing 01/2013; 5(1):307-326 DOI:10.3390/rs5010307

Duarte da Silva Couto, M. S., O.P. Smith, L. G. Ferreira, F. N. Garcia, L. E. Fernandez, C. B. Field. (2013). Identification of Alternative Scenarios for Pasture Areas in the State of Goiás based on a Linear Mathematical Model. Revista Brasileira de Cartografica (2013) N0 65/6: 1199-1210


Zeller, M. L., R.. L. Riolo, W. Rand, D. G. Brown, S. E. Page, L.E. Fernandez (2010). “The Problem with Zoning: Nonlinear Effects of Interactions between Location Preferences and Externalities on Land Use and Utility”. Environment and Planning B. 37(3): 408-428


Habegger, Loren J.; Fernandez, L.E.; Engle, M.; Bailey, James L.; Peterson, David P.; MacDonell, Margaret M. (2008). Technology Demonstration for Reducing Mercury Emissions from Small-Scale Gold Refining Facilities Environmental Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Il. ANL/EVS/TM/08-6. 84 pp.


Bailey, M.; Fernandez, L.E.; Habegger, L.; MacDonell, M. Newland, L., (2007). “Merging Old and New: Framing Technology Transfer to Improve Mercury Risk Management for Artisans and Communities”. Environmental Informatics and Systems Research Vol. 2. 146-153.


Fernandez, L. E., Brown D. G., Marans R. W. and. Nassauer J. I. (2005). Characterizing Locational Preferences in an Exurban Population: Implications for Agent Based Modeling. Environment and Planning B, 32(6): 799-820


Zellner, M. L.; Riolo, R.; Rand, W.; Page, S. E.; Brown, D. G.; Fernandez, L. E. (2003). The Interaction Between Zoning Regulations and Residential Preferences as a Driver of Urban Form. Proceedings. 2003 UTEP Distinguished Faculty and Student Symposium, University of Michigan.

Brown, D. G. W. Rand, S. E. Page, R. Riolo, L. E. Fernandez, and M. Zellner. (2003). Characterizing the Spatial Dynamics of Land Development in Southeastern Michigan, USA: Agent-Based Models, GIS, and Social Surveys

Rand, W., D. G. Brown, S. E. Page, R. Riolo, L. E. Fernandez, and M. Zellner. (2003). “Statistical Validation of Spatial Patterns in Agent-Based Models”. Proceedings. Agent Based Simulations 4 Meetings. April 28-30, 2003. Montpellier, France.

Rand, W. , D.G. Brown, S.E. Page, R. L. Riolo, M. Zellner, and L. E. Fernandez. (2003)


Rand, W, M. Zellner, S. E. Page, R. Riolo, D. G. Brown, L. E. Fernandez. (2002). “The Complex Interaction of Agents and Environments: An Example in Urban Sprawl”. Proceedings. Agents 2002 Meeting: Social Agents, Ecology and Evolution. October 11-12, 2002, Chicago, Il.

Allan, J. D., A. J. Brenner, J. Erazo, L. E. Fernandez, A. S. Flecker, D. L. Karwan, S. Segnini and D. C. Taphorn. (2002). Land use in watersheds of the Venezuelan Andes: A Comparative Analysis. Conservation Biology 16(2): 527-538


Fernandez, L. E., J. Erazo, J. D. Allan, A. J. Brenner, (1999). “Investigating the role of transportation networks in land use change in Venezuelan Andean Piedmont: a historical and spatial analysis.” In Sarmiento, F and J. Higaldo (eds.) Proceedings of the III International Symposium of Sustainable Development of Mountains: Dec 14-18 1998. Quito, Ecuador.

"Peruvian Gold Comes with Mercury Health Risks Merchants"Article in Scientific American magazine (April 2011) on our Feb 2011 study in the Peruvian Amazon and Andes
Smithsonian Article in Smithsonian Magazine, (March 2011) referencing our 2010 study of amazonian fish in Madre de Dios Peru
Virginia Quarterly ReviewAn article in the Virginia Quarterly Review (Fall 2010) that profiled our research in Madre de Dios, Peru. The author Jessica Benko is a finalist for the Livingston Award in the International Reporting category for this story.
"Hora N with Jaime de Althaus" Canal N, Peru. October 13, 2010Interview with Luis Fernandez regarding the connection between deforestation, environmental mercury contamination and small scale gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon State of Madre de Dios.
Interview on TV Zimbo -- Angola 05/29/10Interview with Luis E. Fernandez regarding the environmental and development advantages of using Renewable Energy to address energy poverty in rural Angola.
Interview on TPA Network-- Angola 02/15/10Interview with Luis E. Fernandez regarding Renewable Energy for rural development and the reduction of energy poverty and deforestation in Angola.
Nature: Peru battles the golden curse of Madre de DiosArticle in the journal Nature that features the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Project's work in Madre de Dios. (Jun 20, 2012)
“Reiniciarán estudios sobre el impacto del mercurio en la salud en Madre de Dios”. January 13, 2012Article about the start of the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Project in Madre de Dios
1.Blog article about the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Project and its goals.
3. CCTV America. Program: “Americas Now”, March 12, 2012A 30 minute in depth television piece on the environmental crisis in Madre de Dios featuring extensive interviews with Luis Fernandez.
"Reiniciarán estudios sobre el impacto del mercurio en la salud en Madre de Dios”. January 13, 2012.Article announcing the start of the CAMEP project in Peru.
4. “Peru battles the golden curse of Madre de Dios”. June 20, 2012.Article in the journal Nature that features the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Project's work in Madre de Dios.
"Curbing miners a challenge in Madre de Dios", September 2012.Cover story in Ecoamericas featuring the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Ecosystem
6. "In the rain forests of Peru, a modern gold rush poisons the environment" December 9, 2012. Sacramento Bee Article discussing environmental degradation in the Peruvian forest and recent research conducted by the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Ecosystem Project.
7. “Gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon: a view from the ground”. March 15, article written by CAMEP scientist Katy Ashe about the situation in in Madre de Dios.
8. “Madre de Dios: confirman presencia de mercurio en seres humanos y peces” March 15, 2013First Peruvian press article reporting initial results from the CAMEP Project.
9. “Study Finds Mounting Mercury Threat In Peru Amazon”. March 20, 2013.Associated Press: The Big Story. Widely syndicated story on CAMEP results.
“Study finds mounting mercury threat in Peru Amazon”. March 20, 2013. Huffington Post story on CAMEP results.
“Mercury Contamination from illegal gold mining in Peru’s Amazon mounting health threat”.Washington Post story on the CAMEP project
“Stanford grad student sees firsthand illegal gold mines in Peru and their threat to the rain forest”. April 3, 2013First person article by CAMEP scientist Katy Ashe about doing research on Mercury in Madre de Dios.
"A Toxic Legacy: Gold Mining in Peru", May 7, 2013Link TV: Earth Focus television program featuring interviews with Luis Fernandez
“Madre de Dios und der Fluch des Goldes”, April 29, 2013German language article on the situation in Madre de Dios and the work of the CAMEP project
“Scientists discover high mercury levels in Amazon residents, gold-mining to blame”Comprehensive article in on the CAMEP project and a discussion of the first set of initial findings.