Entomologist

R. ISAI MADRIZ

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R. Isaí Madriz, PhD is an independent early-career Mexican American entomologist with expertise in freshwater aquatic insects of Patagonia. He is the world authority in the family of primitive crane flies (Tanyderidae).

Madriz traverses some of the most remote and unexplored areas of Patagonia alone using a bamboo bicycle and a packraft in search of some of the rarest insects on the planet. Performing first descents of unnamed glacial waterways and carrying over 30 kilos of equipment, he sets off to find and explore the last pristine forests remaining in Patagonia to document the unique Gondwanan insect biodiversity of the region.

Packrafting through glacial lagoons, transecting hidden glacial valleys and wading in gelid rivers to find the biodiversity that depends on these ancient ice masses, Dr. Madriz has found over 60 species of insects new to science. To advance descriptions of these relict species (living fossils) and engage in constant exploratory work, Madriz pairs up with other world authorities in entomology.

Given the weight limits of his expeditions, Madriz mostly carries photographic and laboratory equipment to document his findings. He does not use a water filter nor stove but relies on his expertise in insect bioindicators to find clean water and brings a small amount of oatmeal for daily consumption. He complements his dietary needs with endemic vegetation and fungi.

In 2017, he and his wife, an autism specialist educator, relocated from Chicago to rural Patagonia. Together, they develop educational materials based on his findings for rural schools across the region. He also works pro-bono with small, local tourism entrepreneurs to incorporate his findings into their tours.

To bring attention to the conservation of insects in this area of the world, he writes about the vanishing insect diversity through images and stories of exploration and science.
Madriz is constantly fighting to include insects in biodiversity protection programs in Chilean Patagonia before Patagonia's endemic biodiversity is transformed forever.

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