Environmental scientist shares exploration stories


Richard Sneider explains to students how he repelled from a helicopter into a forest in Papua New Guinea to study plants and animals of that region. Credit: Sammi Handler/Chronicle

Jesse Nadel

Environmental scientist and businessman Richard Sneider (Nicole ’09, Alán ’12, Eitan ’17) shared his experiences exploring and building a research facility in an isolated region of Papua New Guinea with students in Ahmanson Lecture Hall during activities period Monday.

Sneider, who is Chair of the Freshwater Fish Specialist Group for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, told the students about his experience researching in a region of Papua New Guinea, never before visited by humans due to the harsh topography of the region. In order to reach the area, Sneider said, he had to repel from a helicopter into the forest.

Once in the forest, Sneider cleared an area and constructed a research facility that was then used to study the animals and plants of the region. Sneider also discussed other explorations he took part in, including one where he discovered an unknown species of fish.

“My fascination throughout all my life has been exploration,” Sneider said. “I’ve been going on expeditions since the mid-70s. My fascination is really with the ecological well-being of the planet and species’ survival.”

Sneider’s talk was required for all AP Environmental Science students, but all students were allowed to attend. Students said that they both learned from and enjoyed Sneider’s presentation.

“It brought a whole new, fresh perspective to me, because Dr. Sneider, presented his personal stories of being an environmental scientist to us,” Phoebe Sanders ’17 said. “It was really astounding, because his work was incredibly dangerous.”