Rakan A. Zahawi

Executive Director

Rakan A. “(Zak”) Zahawi starts his new role as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Charles Darwin Foundation on March 1, 2021. He received a B.S. in Botany from the University of Texas at Austin and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Zak is a tropical restoration ecologist who has worked in many areas of Latin America, including fieldwork for his master’s in northwestern Ecuador. He is committed to putting research into practice to promote conservation.

With an affinity for oceanic archipelagos, Rakan comes to CDF from the Lyon Arboretum, a research unit of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. From 2006-2016, Dr. Zahawi was Director of Las Cruces Biological Station & Wilson Botanical Garden, one of the largest and busiest in Costa Rica. There Dr. Zahawi interacted with a wide range of scientists from the Americas and Europe, giving him extensive experience in dealing with a broad range of interests and needs. Dr. Zahawi taught plant ecology and taxonomy, mentored students in developing their field research skills, and oversaw the complex logistics of running field courses at multiple sites. He advanced the mission of the Las Cruces Biological Station by improving facilities, revitalizing collections, increasing staffing, and enhancing outreach with the local community.

Dr. Zahawi has a long history of public education and capacity building—starting with outreach lectures for his research, and later as director where he oversaw the development of an environmental education and outreach program. He is an Associate Researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Adjunct Faculty at Duke University, North Carolina.


The mission of the Charles Darwin Foundation and its Research Station is to tackle the greatest threats and challenges to Galapagos through scientific research and conservation action, in order to safeguard one of the world’s most important natural treasures.

Sign up to the latest news

* required

Sign up to the latest news

* required


Av. Charles Darwin s/n, Puerto Ayora, Galápagos, Ecuador
(593) 5 2526-146 / 2527-013 Ext 101
Quito Office
Francisco Andrade Marín
E6-122 y Av. Eloy Alfaro
+593 (2) 2 231 174

The ‘Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands’, in French ‘Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL), has its registered office at 54 Avenue Louise, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Trade Registry # 0409.359.103

© 2023 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.