Aldemaro Romero Jr.

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Aldemaro Romero Jr.
Aldemaro Romero Jr. as host of the radio show Segue.jpg
Aldemaro Romero Jr. as host of the radio show Segue
Born Aldemaro Romero Jr.
(1951-09-11) September 11, 1951 (age 66)
Caracas, Venezuela
Alma mater Universitat de Barcelona
University of Miami
Known for Cave Biology
Marine Mammalogy
Paleontology
Environmental studies
History and philosophy of science
Science communication and public outreach
University administration
Scientific career
Fields Biology, Education, Academic Administration
Institutions Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Baruch College/City University of New York

Aldemaro Romero Jr. (Caracas born September 11, 1951)[1] is a Venezuelan/American scientist, communicator, and advocate of liberal arts education. He has published more than 1,000 works,[2] more than 20 books and monographs, and produced, directed, written and/or hosted more than 1500 radio shows and 50 TV shows and documentaries in areas ranging from science to history and philosophy.[3] He is known for his approaches of combining field, laboratory and archival studies from different disciplines.

Romero has held a long career as an educator and academic administrator. He served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville until 2014 and became dean of the George and Mildred Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch College/City University of New York, effective July 2016.[4]

Biography[edit]

Aldemaro Romero Jr. conducting his father's orchestra

Aldemaro Romero Jr. was born in Caracas, Venezuela, the son of Venezuelan composer, pianist, and orchestra conductor Aldemaro Romero Sr. and his wife, Margot Díaz Saavedra de Romero. While listening to one of his father’s records at home when he was 4 years old, his father saw him mimicking a conductor’s mannerisms and had him appear on a live TV show conducting his orchestra. That and other TV appearances made him a celebrity in Venezuela even performing in movies conducting an orchestra.[5] In adult life Romero never pursued a professional career as a musician but continued performing as an amateur.[6][7]

Romero attributes his decision to become a scientist the day the press announced the launch of Sputnik. His decision to study biology was inspired by the Jacques-Yves Cousteau movie "The Silent World".[8]

He obtained a Licenciatura in biology, with a zoology concentration, from the Universitat de Barcelona,[9] in 1977, while working as a scientist in several institutions and as science writer for several printed, radio, and TV media. He obtained his doctorate in biology from the University of Miami,[10] in Coral Gables, Florida, with a doctoral dissertation on the evolution and behavior of cavefish.

Romero met his wife Ana during the early 1970s while both were undergraduate students at the Universitat de Barcelona.

In 1994 he fled his native Venezuela to the United States, after denouncing the killing of dolphins by Venezuelan fishermen and receiving death threats. Since returning to the US he has taught at the University of Miami, Miami-Dade Community College, Florida Atlantic University, Macalester College, and Arkansas State University. Romero accepted the position as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2009, a position that he held until 2014. He became dean of the George and Mildred Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch College/City University of New York, effective July 2016.[11]

Career[edit]

Aldemaro Romero Jr. At the Museum of Zoology of Barcelona

While an undergraduate student in Biology at the Universitat de Barcelona in Spain, Romero volunteered at the Museum of Zoology (later renamed as Museum of Natural Sciences) where he created the Hydrobiology Section and led a group of other undergraduates to work on aquatic organisms reorganizing some of the collections and re-identifying some of the mislabeled specimens. He also volunteered working at the Museum of Geology of the Seminario Conciliar of Barcelona where he described several new species of Middle Triassic (240-235 million years old) horseshoe crabs and a set of fossils that he described as an entirely new group (subphylum) of animals never reported to science before.

Cave biology[edit]

Aldemaro Romero Jr. (center) with a group of collaborators at Cumaca Cave, Trinidad, W.I.

As a graduate student at the University of Miami, Romero specialized on the study of the evolution, behavior, and ecology of cavefishes. Through these studies he was the first to propose that colonization of cave environments was an active process via behavioral adaptations preceding morphological ones (e.g. blindness and depigmentation).[12] Later he proposed a new hypothesis aimed at explaining the mechanisms leading towards the loss of eyes and pigmentation among these and other cave animals. He suggested that the mechanism behind this phenomenon was a little understood biological process at the time called phenotypic plasticity. This challenged the typological view of all cave creatures as completely differentiated from a genetic viewpoint from their surface (epigean) ancestors. According to Romero all what was needed for the evolution of drastically morphologically distinct cave species were just a few changes in the genes controlling the development of features such as eyes and pigmentation. These and other ideas were summarized in a book.[13]

Marine mammalogy[edit]

Aldemaro Romero Jr. (left) teaching marine mammalogy at Arkansas State University dissecting a sea otter

Romero studied the history and practices of exploitation of marine mammals in the Caribbean basin. To that end he conducted field and archival studies in Venezuela,[14] Trinidad and Tobago,[15] Grenada,[16] St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, and Bermuda[17][18][19] as well as in libraries and archives in the northeastern U.S. that keep logbooks from whaling vessels. He concluded that local shore whaling combined with Yankee whaling were responsible for the depletion of many whale and dolphin populations throughout the Caribbean basin and that both types of whaling influenced each other from a cultural viewpoint.[20] For example, he recorded chants by local Caribbean whalers that mimicked those of Yankee whalers from the nineteenth century, demonstrating that cultural influence.[21]

Paleontology[edit]

Fossil of one of the paleocyphonautes described by Romero

Romero has described a number of fossil species of horseshoe crabs,[22] jellyfishes[23] (of which there are very few good-quality fossil impressions from around the world) and a group of very unusual species that he grouped under the name of Paleocyphonates, which he described as a new subphylum. He proposed the hypothesis that these extinct, medium-size fossil impressions represented the adult stage of today existing larva cyphonautes and supported such hypothesis not only with paleontological information but with physiological and developmental biology data as well.[24]

Environmental studies[edit]

In addition to his studies on marine mammal exploitation in the Caribbean, Romero also carried out a number of field and archival studies about the exploitation of other marine animals in the same region. One of those allowed him to discover that the first animal population depleted by Europeans in the American continent was of a pearl oyster species (Pinctada imbricata) off the coast of Venezuela. In 1996 he studied historical records and used information about the biology of these and other species to explain its rapid disappearance.[25] Romero also conducted studies on the pollution caused by lead in gasoline in Venezuela – the only country in the Western Hemisphere that still produced leaded gasoline at that time. Those studies showed high levels of that contaminant in the Venezuelan environment and leaded gasoline was later eliminated from the market.[26][27][28] He also produced a study about all of the environmental-related programs in U.S. higher education institutions. He concluded that the number of those programs always spiked after the electoral wins by Democratic presidents.[29]

History and philosophy of science[edit]

Aldemaro Romero Jr. at the entrance of Charles Darwin's home, Down House

Romero has published and taught on the history and philosophy of science, particularly on evolutionary ideas. Through his work he concluded that the initial resistance by French biologists to accept Charles Darwin's ideas was a combination of catholic mysticism and nationalism.[30] In another study he concluded that environmental classification and intellectual inertia delayed for centuries the acceptance of whales and dolphins as mammals, instead of being considered fish.[31] He has also worked on Darwin’s life and published an analysis on how the British scientist was modifying his home at Downe, Kent, in order to accommodate to his scientific interests, his growing family and number of servants, as well as his health problems. To that end he developed an interactive house plan that shows the modifications he made through time.[32]

Science communication and public outreach[edit]

Romero has promoted public understanding of science and the liberal arts, from hosting radio and TV shows, to producing documentaries. He has contributed to the Spanish newspaper El Noticiero Universal, Radio Nacional de España,[33] Televisión Española, Radio Peninsular, Radio Capital,[34] Venevision, the Jonesboro Sun[35] and the Edwardsville Intelligencer,[36][37] among others. He also hosted his own radio shows on KASU, the college radio station at Arkansas State University[38] and WSIE at SIU, Edwardsville.[39][40] His work has also appeared in several scholarly publications.[41]

Non-profit and university administrator[edit]

Romero served as a program director for The Nature Conservancy,[42] in Washington, DC, then as founder and executive director of BIOMA, The Venezuelan Foundation for the Conservation of Biological Diversity.[43] He has also served as the director of the environmental studies program at Macalester College,[44] chair of the biological sciences department at Arkansas State University,[45] and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.[46] He became dean of the George and Mildred School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch College/City University of New York, effective July 2016.[47] His approach to higher education emphasizes experiential learning. He has also been an advocate for the value of a liberal arts education and has produced instructional videos and spoken in public and professional forums.[48] He has led a number of initiatives to develop academic and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba, exemplified by the agreement between Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville and the University of Havana and other Cuban cultural institutions.[49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Aldemaro Romero (Jr.)". siue.edu. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Aldemaro Romero: Complete List of Publications". aromerojr.net. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Curriculum Vitae – Aldemaro Romer" (PDF). Aromerojr.neto. January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  4. ^ See Baruch College press release - http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/DrRomeroWeissmanDean.htm
  5. ^ "Aldemaro Romero, Jr. Conducts on Vimeo". vimeo.com. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "Choral Society performance". vimeo.com. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Carpe Diem String Quartet & Peter Soave: The Music of Aldemaro Romero on Vimeo". vimeo.com. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Romero's Curiosity Rooted in Undersea World" (PDF). 
  9. ^ "Universitat de Barcelona". ub.edu. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "University of Miami". miami.edu. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  11. ^ See Baruch College press release: http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/DrRomeroWeissmanDean.htm
  12. ^ Aldemaro Romero (1984). "Responses to light in cave and surface populations of Astyanax Fasciatus (Pisces: Characidae): an evolutionary interpretation" (PDF). University of Miami. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Aldemaro Romero (4 February 2009). "Cave Biology" (PDF). Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Aldemaro Romero; A. Ignacio Agudo; Steven M. Green (1997). "Exploitation of Cetaceans in Venezuela" (PDF). Rep. Int. Whal. Commn. 47: 735–746. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Aldemaro Romero; Ruth Baker; Joel E. Creswell; Anuradha Singh; Annabelle Mckie; Michael Manna (24 July 2002). "Environmental History of Marine Mammal Exploitation in Trinidad and Tobago, W.I., and its Ecological Impact" (PDF). Environment and History. The White Horse Press, Cambridge, UK. 8 (3): 255–274. doi:10.3197/096734002129342666. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Aldemaro Romero; Kyla Hayford (2000). "Past and present utilisation of marine mammals in Grenada, West Indies" (PDF). J. Cetacean Res. Manage. 2 (3): 223–226. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "More Private Gain than Good : Whale and Ambergris Exploitation in 17th-Century Bermuda" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  18. ^ "Between War and Poverty : Whaling in 18th-Century Bermuda" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  19. ^ "Chasing Fool's Gold : Whaling in 19th and 20th Century Bermuda" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  20. ^ "Yankee Whaling in the Caribbean Basin : Its Impact in a Historical Context" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "Bequia whaler chanting Yankee whaling inspired songs". YouTube. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Tarracolimulus rieki, nov. gen., nov. sp., nuevo limúlido del Triásico de Montreal - Alcover (Tarragona)" (PDF). Academia.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  23. ^ Aldemaro Romero; Raymond R. Rogers; Lisa A. Gershwin (18 April 2011). "Medusoid Cnidarians from the Montral-Alcover Lagerstätten (Triassic), Northeastern Spain" (PDF). ISSN 0214-7831. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "On the evolutionary significance of the Paleocyphonautidae: how fossils and larvae impact evolutionary reconstructions. | Aldemaro Romero Jr". academia.edu. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  25. ^ "Death and Taxes" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  26. ^ "Plomo : El Enemigo Invisible" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  27. ^ "The Environmental Impact of Leaded Gasoline in Venezuela" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  28. ^ "The Invisible Enemy" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  29. ^ (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20131023052539/http://www.siue.edu/artsandsciences/pdf/deanspublications/460.NotAllAreCreatedEqual_1_.2005..pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ "The big issue between science and religion: purpose vs. uncertainty" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  31. ^ "When Whales Became Mammals : The Scientific Journey of Cetaceans From Fish to Mammals in the History of Science" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  32. ^ "CHARLES DARWIN'S BUBBLE: THE EVOLUTION OF DOWN HOUSE" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  33. ^ "Radio Nacional de España". RTVE.es. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  34. ^ "100a_art_radio Capital_23A2409643 - Aniversario" (in Spanish). El Universal. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  35. ^ "jonesborosun.com". jonesborosun.com. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  36. ^ "The Edwardsville Intelligencer : Hometown News You Can't Miss!". Theintelligencer.com. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  37. ^ "CAS - College Talk". Siue.edu. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  38. ^ "Unique and Enriching, Member Supported Radio". KASU. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  39. ^ Home. "WSIE 88.7". Wsie.com. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  40. ^ "CAS - Segue Radio Show". Siue.edu. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  41. ^ "Communicating Science : New Agendas in Communication" (PDF). Siue.edu. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  42. ^ "Nature Conservancy | Protecting Nature, Preserving Life". Nature.org. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  43. ^ "BIOMA.pdf - Google Drive". Docs.google.com. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  44. ^ "Macalester College: Private Liberal Arts College". Macalester.edu. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  45. ^ "A-State". Astate.edu. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  46. ^ "College of Arts & Sciences". Siue.edu. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  47. ^ See Baruch College press release http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/DrRomeroWeissmanDean.htm
  48. ^ "Aldemaro Romero Jr - The Importance of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Local Communities". YouTube. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  49. ^ "Academic Diplomacy: An Expedition to Cuba". Vimeo. September 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • LaFond, L., C. Berger & A. Romero (Eds.). 2010. Adventures in the Academy: Professors in the Land of Lincoln and Beyond. Edwardsville: College of Arts and Sciences, SIUE. 182 pp.
  • LaFond, L., W.A. Retzlaff & A. Romero (Eds.). 2012. After the Academy: Memories of Teaching and Learning in the Land of Lincoln. Edwardsville: College of Arts and Sciences, SIUE. 184 pp.
  • Maddox, A.T. 2011. Dean is a wanted man. Bellville News-Democrat. BDN Magazine, Sunday, March 27, 2011, S3.
  • Noakes, D.L.G., A. Romero, Y. Zhao & Y. Zhou. (Eds.) 2009. Chinese Fishes. Developments in Environmental Biology of Fishes, Volume 28 (Reprinted in hard cover from Environmental Biology of Fishes 86[1]). Dordrecht: Springer. 278 pp.
  • Romero, A. & A. Mayayo. 1992. Manual de Ciencias Ambientales. Caracas: Bioma, x + 212 pp.
  • Romero, A. 1992. Canaima. Caracas: Palmaven, S.A., 208 pp.
  • Romero, A. 1993. Venezuela: Mágico País de la Biodiversidad. Caracas: Colegial Bolivariana, 55 pp.
  • Romero, A. 1994. Vida Verde. Barcelona, Spain: Apóstrofe, 199 pp.
  • Romero, A. (Ed.). 2001. The Biology of Hypogean Fishes. Developments in Environmental Biology of Fishes, Volume 21 (Reprinted in hard cover from Environmental Biology of Fishes 62 [1-3]). Dordrecht: Kluwer. 370 pp.
  • Romero, A. & S. West. (Eds.). 2005. Environmental Issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. Dordrecht: Springer. 299 pp.
  • Romero, A. 2009. Cave Biology: Life in Darkness. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 291 pp.
  • Romero, A. & E.O. Keith (Eds.). 2012. New Approaches to the Study of Marine Mammals. Rijeka, Croatia: InTech. 248 pp.
  • Rose, M. 2014. The Aldemaro Romero Jr. Collection: Boxes 606, 653-657: the Political Persecution Papers. Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
  • Trauth, J. & A. Romero. (Eds.). 2008. Adventures of the Wild: Experiences from Biologists from the Natural State. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press. 160 pp.