National Geographic Explorer, Crocodile Expert to Speak at EC Jackson Day Lecture

Mar 12 2019

EUREKA – The Eureka College Science and Mathematics Division is celebrating the legacy of late EC alumnus and chemistry professor William Thomas Jackson this year by welcoming renowned National Graphic explorer and crocodile expert Dr. Matthew Shirley to campus to speak at his honorary event.

The 65th annual William Thomas Jackson Lecture will take place in Becker Auditorium of the Donald B. Cerf Center at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 21. The presentation is titled “Project Mecistops: Working to Save West Africa’s Forgotten Species,” and is open to the public.

Dr. Shirley is a conservation scientist currently implementing his West and Central African flagship species conservation and research program through the Tropical Conservation Institute of Florida International University. His presentation will focus on his research assessing critically endangered crocodilians,

Dr. Shirley has been researching and working to conserve crocodiles in West and Central Africa for over 15 years. His work has led to the discovery of four new crocodile species in Africa, one of which — the West African slender-snouted crocodile — is one of the most critically endangered species in the world and the focal species of Project Mecistops.

He received his PhD from the University of Florida in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation in 2013 and won the Future for Nature Award in 2016. His research directly benefits crocodiles and other wildlife, including pygmy hippos and pangolins, while also building professional capacity among in-country stewards and partners and engaging local communities in sustainable conservation practices. 

Dr. Shirley is the Chairman for the West and Central Africa region of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Crocodile Specialist Group, and an active member of both the Pangolin and Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Groups.

Before the lecture, he will be meeting with students from the Division of Math and Science in Sanders Hall Room 108 at 4:00 p.m. to give a special presentation on cryptic crocodile species featuring the systematic revision of the African Slender-snouted crocodiles (Meistocops Gray, 1844).

If you would like to interview or meet Dr. Shirley while he is on campus, please contact Dr. Katy Everett at

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