Cristián Samper, the director of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), will resign in July to become president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Samper has served as director of NMNH since 2003.
“It has been a privilege to serve at the Smithsonian as director of this great museum, with a team of dedicated professionals and act as a steward of the largest natural history collection in the world,” said Samper. “As a tropical biologist, I recognize the urgent need to conserve the natural and cultural diversity of this planet. It is my goal to contribute to these vital efforts as head of the Wildlife Conservation Society.”
During his tenure as director, Samper helped the museum to upgrade collections storage facilities and expand digitization of collections. He also oversaw the renovation of several major exhibits, including the Ocean Hall, Hall of Human Origins, and Hall of Mammals. Samper also worked to ensure that NMNH would continue to serve as a scientific leader in the long-term by recruiting and training the next generation of museum researchers.
Samper was also co-founder of the Encyclopedia of Life, an online database about life on Earth.
Prior to becoming director, Samper was deputy director and staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.