Matthew Larsen
Research Center Director

Matthew Larsen

Director, Smithsonian Tropical Research Center

Matthew C. Larsen is the director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He oversees approximately 300 employees, an annual budget of $23 million and STRI’s research facilities throughout Panama and field sites in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas. In addition to its resident scientists, STRI’s facilities are used by some 1,400 visiting scientists and 800 pre- and postdoctoral fellows and interns from academic and research institutions around the world annually.

Before joining the Smithsonian in August 2014, Larsen was the associate director for climate and land-use change at the U.S. Geological Survey, where he was responsible for USGS climate-change research, adaptation and mitigation programs as well as land-change science programs. He led a team of 750 scientific and operational staff that conducts scientific research, habitat monitoring, remote sensing and environmental forecasting to address the effects of climate and land-use change on U.S. resources.

Beginning in 2010, Larsen led a large team of scientific and operational staff in research to address improved understanding of climate change and land-use change. The scientific programs Larsen oversaw at USGS are supported by annual congressional appropriations of approximately $160 million.

From 2008 to 2010, Larsen was the associate director for water at USGS, where he led water-resources research and federally funded programs to collect and disseminate information needed to understand the nation’s water resources. He was USGS’s chief scientist for hydrology from 2005 to 2008, and he was the staff assistant to the chief scientist for hydrology from 2003 to 2005. Larsen worked for more than a decade in Puerto Rico as a research hydrologist before becoming USGS’s Caribbean district chief in 2000 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, where he led water resource programs there and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Larsen has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and a doctorate in geography at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

# # #