Katharine (Kate) Thompson is an anthropologist and conservationist. She is also a published scientific illustrator and doctoral candidate in the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences at Stony Brook University. As such, she works to communicate science through art, research and resolve human-wildlife conflict and provide humanitarian aid.
Additionally, Thompson is the founder and executive director of the Amani Foundation, which benefits and runs Amani Children’s Home in Mto wa Mbu, a town in northern Tanzania. Home to nearly 50 children, this award-winning children’s home serves as an extension of the social welfare department and community a resource center. As a 2017 Safina Center “Kalpana Chawla Launchpad Fellow,” Thompson began an educational program at the home, blending science lessons with art to teach children about local ecosystems and their own role in conservation. Thompson also established the first public library in Mto wa Mbu and developed a “traveling projector program” that brought science documentaries and educational films–mostly about local wildlife–to remote Maasai villages across the Moduli District. Her educational programs are now being carried out by Tanzanian wildlife management volunteers.
As a Fellow this year, Kate plans to continue to use illustration and design to make nature education accessible across language and educational barriers. Both in Madagascar and Tanzania, language and literacy can be a major barrier to sharing scientific knowledge. Published wildlife guides and materials tend to be in the language of the tourists (French and English, respectively). Thompson plans to refine her abilities as an illustrator and work with local translators to design art and identification guides that inform, inspire, and instill an appreciation for wildlife and the will to conserve it.