Community Science Projects

Current Projects

LAVA, or Laboratorio para Apreciar la Vida y el Ambiente, is a series of community science initiatives that address issues at the intersection of ecology, conservation, and education. Our core projects deploy the tools of community science, in which local members of the Galápagos community partner with technical experts from our university team to conceive, plan, execute, analyze, and disseminate scientific research on pressing questions at the interface between the human and non-human environment. The projects are currently based in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the island of San Cristóbal. 

LAVA takes a three-tiered approach to community science. At the first tier is the science project itself, investigating issues of interest to the community of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The second tier is an assessment of the impacts of this project and how it shapes the knowledge and attitudes of the people involved in carrying it out. The third tier is a philosophical reflection on how this model of doing science with a community can inform questions about the epistemology and ethics of science.

“Everyone here is treated as if we were lifelong friends by the students of the University of Pennsylvania. This is important from my point of view, since the trust between each one of the members of the LAVA team conveys a positive message for all.”

Brandon Pico, 2017 LAVA-Lobos Participant

Our Projects

Coexisting With Other Species

LAVA Lobos

Underwater Exploration


Environmental Management


Eradicating Invasive Species


Exploring the Dark Skies

LAVA Astro

Beyond Community Science

Our Other Projects