Celebrating a Century of Tropical Science and Looking Forward to the Next 100 Years

Gamboa Rainforest Reserve

BCI Alumni Reunion: June 16, 2024
Science Symposium: June 17 –20, 2024

Early registration is now open

You can now register for Symposium events.

Stay tuned for announcements of field trips, workshops and more.

Registration dates

Early: March 15th – April 26th
April 27th –  May 31th
June 1st – June 13th

Building on a Century of Tropical Science

Join us in Gamboa, Panama, for a milestone event: the Barro Colorado Island field station is turning 100!

  • Share and discover the science being done at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and our Panamanian partner institutions today!
  • Reunite with old friends and colleagues and make new connections in our vibrant scientific community!
  • Help us jointly envision the next 100 years of tropical research and education, with presentations on the potential of new technologies, debates on the most promising avenues for future research, and discussions of how we can contribute to a more diverse and inclusive future!

Centennial Science Symposium, June 17-20

The symposium will feature three days of invited and contributed scientific talks, poster presentations, and discussion panels.

Following an opening reception on day one, day two will focus on the legacy of the first 100 years of BCI, a keynote by Lissy Coley, and sessions on long-term studies, the educational legacy of BCI, and the conservation value of field stations.

On day three, we will showcase the diversity and depth of tropical research at STRI and other academic and research institutions in Panama today.

On day four we will look toward the future and the potential of new technologies, the most promising avenues for research, and how best to advance diversity and inclusion.

The call for abstracts is now open.

Early registration is now open. The schedule of registration fees is here

BCI Alumni reunion, June 16

We warmly invite BCI alumni to join us on BCI and in Gamboa to reconnect with old friends, revisit old haunts, and make new connections as part of STRI’s first-ever alumni reunion. Join us on BCI on Sunday, June 16, for forest walks with current researchers and to rejoin the longest-running conversation in tropical biology in the BCI cafeteria. Note that space on the boat is limited, so don’t delay in signing up! There is also limited capacity for alumni overnights on BCI.

Bioblitz: June 15 and June 17

Everyone is invited to join BCI/Gamboa’s first ever Bioblitz! A standard Bioblitz is a community science activity to find and ID as many species as possible using smartphone apps. Our enhanced Bioblitz will also include more systematic data collection on some taxonomic groups. Data collection will take place in Gamboa and BCI. Anyone with a smartphone can assist with data collection on Saturday, June 15. People with expertise in species identification are needed to help assign taxon names to photos and sound recordings on Monday, June 17.


Learn a new skill through interactive instruction and hands-on training in a scientist-led workshop on June 14, 17 or 21. Workshops are open to symposium attendees and BCI alumni. Space is limited! Space is limited!

Field Trips

Symposium attendees and BCI alumni are invited to sign up for scientist-led field trips on Monday, June 17 and Friday, June 21. Explore a field site, learn about current research on-site, and perhaps consider possibilities for your own future research there. Space is limited!



  • Fleshy fungi of Barro Colorado Island.  BCI. (Limited availability.)
  • An Introduction to ArcGIS FieldMaps, a useful app for the collection of geospatial data in custom field forms.  Tupper training room. (Limited availability.)

Bioblitz Field Day

Community activity to inventory local biological diversity, by collecting as many field observations as possible using a cellphone app, and identifying them to species.  BCI (based out of conference room) and Gamboa (based out of Gamboa lab 1st floor conference room).

BCI alumni overnights on BCI

Limited availability.

BCI Alumni Day on BCI

Bioblitz Analysis Day

Community activity to inventory local biological diversity, by collecting as many field observations as possible using a cellphone app, and identifying them to species.  Gamboa (based out of Gamboa lab 1st floor conference room).  


Ecometabolomics Workshop: A bioinformatics training workshop to bring a chemical perspective to ongoing research in the STRI community. Gamboa 1st floor conference room.  (Limited availability.)

Field Trips

  • An early Miocene mangrove fossil forest buried by a volcanic lahar at Barro Colorado Island, Panama.  (Limited availability.)
  • The Bradley Family Canopy Crane and Forest at Parque Natural Metropolitano.  (Limited availability.)
  • Agua Salud: landscape-scale research in the Panama Canal Watershed Project.  (Limited availability)
  • STRI Gamboa Laboratories Open House

Centennial Symposium Opening Reception

Gamboa Rainforest Resort. 

Centennial Symposium Day 1:
The Legacy of Barro Colorado Island

(preliminary program – subject to change)

Opening words

Opening words by Josh Tewksbury, Ira Rubinoff Director, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Keynote talk

The ecology, evolution and conservation potential of anti-herbivore defenses in rainforest trees, by Lissy Coley, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Biology at the University of Utah, and member of the National Academy of Sciences

Organized oral session

Insights into the basic biology and global change responses of tropical forests from very long-term studies

Contributed oral session

Lessons from long-term studies and research programs at Barro Colorado

Poster session

Long-term and historical studies at Barro Colorado and associated datasets

Discussion panel

Building on the training and educational legacy of BCI and STRI within and beyond Panama, organized by Omar López, Secretario Técnico, SENACYT (Sistema Nacional de Investigación de Panamá)

Discussion panel

The great and largely overlooked value of long-term field stations for conservation, organized by Russ Mittermeier, Chief Conservation Officer of Re:Wild. 

Centennial Symposium Day 2:
Research in STRI and Panama Today

Note: the 2024 STRI fellows symposium is integrated into this day of the centennial symposium.  Talks and posters by STRI fellows (in any area of research at STRI) will be included in the program.

Organized oral session

The effects of climate change on tropical organisms, communities, and ecosystems

Organized oral session

The role of plant-enemy interactions in shaping tropical forest communities across environmental gradients

Organized oral session

Ecological processes and forest ecosystem functions in dynamic socio-ecological systems: a view from Agua Salud

Concurrent contributed oral sessions

Featuring current research at STRI and in Panamanian tropical forests

Poster session

Current research at STRI and in Panamanian tropical forests

Centennial Symposium Day 3:
Looking to the Future at BCI and Beyond

(preliminary program – subject to change)

Organized oral session

The potential of modern technologies to advance tropical forest research

Contributed oral session

Looking to the Future at BCI and beyond – future research directions, multi-site studies, education and outreach

Poster session

Looking to the Future at BCI and beyond – future research directions, multi-site studies, education and outreach

Organized oral presentations and discussion panel

The Next Big Plot: what new massive data collection campaign can transform tropical forest science?

Conversation with Cristián Samper

A conversation with Cristián Samper, Managing Director and Leader of Nature Solutions at the Bezos Earth Fund

Centennial Symposium Closing Dinner 

Field trip

San Lorenzo (Sherman) Canopy Crane and National Park.  (Limited availability.)


Botanical illustration with an emphasis on pen and ink.  Gamboa lab 1st floor conference room.  (Limited availability.)

Call for abstracts

You’re invited to contribute your talk and/or poster to the centennial symposium!

June 18: we welcome presentations on long-term and/or historical studies and datasets at Barro Colorado and/or other Panamanian forests. 

June 19: we aim to showcase the breadth of research in Panamanian tropical forests and/or at STRI today, and thus welcome presentations on current and recent studies.  

June 20: we look to the future and welcome future-oriented presentations including those on emerging research directions, the potential of new technologies, multi-site studies, education, outreach, and more. 


Gamboa Rainforest Reserve hotel

The Gamboa Rainforest Reserve offers special group rates until April 30, 2024.

Availability is limited.

BCI dorms

A limited number of spaces and shared rooms will be available for alumni to spend an overnight on Barro Colorado for a tropical walk down memory lane. More info to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question? Please refer to our FAQ. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please contact us at stribci100@si.edu.


We hope to make this event as accessible as possible. Support the BCI 100 Symposium and help inspire the next generation of researchers that will expand Barro Colorado’s legacy. 

You’re invited to the scientific symposium of the century!

As we honor the remarkable 100-year legacy of Barro Colorado, we extend a warm invitation to you to be part of this historic celebration. This event is not just a reflection of past achievements but a beacon for future scientific explorations.