Dino J. Martins

Dino J. Martins
Executive Director, Mpala Research Centre


Dr. Dino J. Martins, a Kenyan entomologist and evolutionary biologist, is currently the Executive Director of the Mpala Research Centre and a Research Scholar and Lecturer in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He holds a PhD from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University (2011), and a BA in Anthropology (with distinction) from Indiana University (1999).

Dr. Martins’ current scientific research is focused on the evolution and ecology of interactions between species: insects and plants, vectors and hosts and parasites. Current research includes work with farmers in relation to bees and pesticides and improving pollinator awareness and conservation, general studies of bee evolution and ecology in East Africa, hawkmoth and butterfly pollination, co-evolution and the links between biodiversity and landscape-level processes. In the field of ‘One Health’ Dr Martins currently leads projects on the biology vectors for malaria, trachoma, leishmaniasis and other neglected tropical diseases in relation to adaptation to climate, landscape and environmental changes in the Turkana Basin and Greater Horn of Africa region. His work has been featured in the Smithsonian magazine, the Guardian, TED, the BBC as well as in National Geographic.

Communicating and celebrating biodiversity is one of Dr Martins passions and he has authored the ‘Insects of East Africa’, ‘Butterflies of East Africa’ (with S. Collins) and: ‘Our Friends the Pollinators: A Handbook of Pollinator Diversity and Conservation in East Africa. This book has been downloaded over 10,000 times from the web and content accessed by millions of farmers through digital and social media platforms.

Amongst his awards and fellowships are the Ashford Fellowship in the Natural Sciences GSAS, Harvard University, a Smithsonian Institution SIWC – MRC Fellowship (2004), and 2002 & 2003 Peter Jenkins Award for Excellence in African Environmental Journalism. In 2009 he won the Whitley Award, for his work on pollinators in East Africa. He was named one of National Geographic’s ‘Emerging Explorers’ in 2011. Dr Martins was recently elected as a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and an honorary life member of the Kenya Horticultural Society. 

Dr Martins is the 2015 Whitley Gold Award winner for conservation. This is a grassroots global conservation prize awarded each year. The prize was awarded for his work on insects, and improving their conservation and understanding by farmers and the general public across East Africa.