Carmen Soto is the resident biologist and orchid specialist
at Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel and at the Inkaterra AsociaciĆ³n
 non-profit organization.Credit...Inkaterra Hotels

HOTELS hire scientists on staff : They conduct research and lead tours, classes and workshops for guests.

Carmen Soto is a research scientist, with a master's degree in ecology and natural resources from the  National University of Saint Anthony the Abbot in Cuzco, Peru.

In 1999, she met Jose Koechlin, the founder and chief executive of Inkaterra Hotels in Peru.

He wanted to learn how to control the wood weevil and moth, both of which had been attacking the eucalyptus beams and other wood used in building Inkaterra's Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. He offered Ms. Soto a full time job to help him, which she accepted.

Within a year, Ms. Soto, was the resident biologist and orchid specialist at that hotel and at Inkaterra Association, the company's nonprofit organization. Since then, she and her team have helped identify  372 orchid species.

While continuing to identify new species of birds, butterflies and flora, she also organizes  specialized excursions for guests and educational workshops for area schoolchildren.

Eco-tourism has been a buzzword in the travel industry for some time now. But some hotels, lodges and resorts, like Inkaterra, have hired scientists to conduct serious academic inquiry while offering nature tours, workshops and classes for guests.

Two years ago, Mashpi Lodge, about  three-and-a-half-hour drive from Quito, Ecuador, opened a research lab on its premises. The lab is accessible to guests as well as international students working on their dissertations.

The lab was started by Carlos Morochz, who was hired two years before the lodge opened. Today, Mashpi has 12 biologists on staff, and seven studies have been published about frogs, flowers, butterflies and birds found there.

For Mr. Morochz, 32, who works as the lodge's exploration manager and wild life research director, taking a job at a hotel was no-brainer. ''You learn half in books in comparison to what you can learn in the field,'' he said.

In many instances, guests can help conservation efforts.

In 2016, the Maldives had an EI Nino event that raised ocean temperatures so high that about 60 percent of the surrounding coral under the tutelage of Eleanor Butler, the resorts resident biologist.

''I have the opportunity to meet and share my knowledge with young children with a passion to learn, who may grow up to become conservationists and game-changers, to figure who already have an influence in politics and legislation,'' she said.

''I would not be able to see these positive changes from a position inside a laboratory.''

The World Students Society thanks author Abby Ellin.


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