People Profiles

Research Profile: Juan Jose Alava

January 14, 2011

Juan Jose Alava says that he was mentored into his profession by his late father, a veterinarian, microbiologist and environmental health researcher.

Alava’s research on the environmental effects of persistent organic pollutants  has taken him around the world. He has studied loggerhead sea turtles in the southeast United States, sea lions in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, and killer whales off the coast of British Columbia. His next stop: Antarctica, to study organic contaminants in giant petrels and Gentoo penguins.

As an Adjunct Scientist for the Charles Darwin Foundation, he found that Galapagos sea lion pups exhibit concentrations of DDT that can endanger their health. This has important implications for the use of DDT as the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that it be used to combat malaria in tropical countries.

He’ll be defending his PhD thesis in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management on February 3 at Simon Fraser University.

Wildlife photos: Juan Jose Alava. J.J. Alava photo: Dr. Frank Gobas

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