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Popular Publications & Media Outreach

There is tremendous public interest in biological discoveries, and I have disseminated my research results and concerns about issues at the intersection of science and popular culture through a wide range of outlets. Among the most innovative of these has been a long-term collaboration with New York based artist David Brooks, who has participated in four of my expeditions and featured aspects of my research in prominent international art exhibits including Art Basel, the largest modern art exhibition in the world. The PBS program Art21 produced a documentary on our working relationship. I have also written op-ed pieces for the New York Times (respectively on gold mining threats to the Amazon and the need to protect biological collections), articles for aquarium fish hobbyists (e.g., 1, 2, 3) and the Royal Ontario Museum's ROM Magazine, and a blog for the Eddie Bauer clothing company. Interviews with me and results of my research have been featured on the National Geographic website, in Amazonas and Practical Fishkeeping magazines, and magazines of Texas A&M University and Calvin College. I have recently been invited to England and Germany to deliver popular lectures on my research to advanced aquarists from throughout Europe and I regularly deliver lectures at aquarium clubs throughout North America.

With Mark Walters, Chairman of the Catfish Study Group, and his article describing the aquarium spawning of Peckoltia lujani, published in the Journal of the Catfish Study Group.

  • March 2018: The University of Toronto Scarborough interviewed me about a PLoS Biology paper I coauthored with 183 other taxonomists from 37 countries that affirms the importance to conservation of science-based taxonomic research.

  • 2017, June 26: The University of Toronto News ran a story about the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper written by UofT PhD student Gianni Castiglione, professor Belinda Chang, myself and colleagues about evolution of the vision protein rhodopsin in high elevation Andean catfishes. This research was based on specimens collected during expeditions that I led to Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru.

  • 2016, May 21: On this World Fish Migration Day, I was profiled by the International Rivers NGO as a River Guardian.




  • 2016, March 8: I delivered a lecture on field work and research in the Guiana Shield to a group of about 30 members of the Durham Region Aquarium Society in Toronto, ON, Canada.


  • 2015, November 7: I delivered a lecture on flow and fish diversity at the Panta Rhei theme day in Hannover, Germany, and met with an audience of over 40 advanced aquarists.



  • 2015, October 16–18: Catfish Cataclysm Conference hosted by the Madison Area Aquatic Hobbyists (MAAH) associaton in Madison, WI. I presented two talks on my research, auctioned off several of my Panaqolus phylogeny posters to benefit the MAAH and visited with over 60 advanced aquarists from throuhgout the Midwest.



  • 2015, March 20–22: Catfish Study Group Conference in Wigan, United Kingdom: I produced and distributed a poster illustrating results of recent phylogenetic research, gave two lectures on results of my research and spent three days visiting with over 80 advanced aquarists from throughout Europe. 



  • 2007–14: Practical Fishkeeping Magazine: thirteen online articles and interviews about my research with a cumulative total of over 62,000 page views:

​                  – New species of Pseudolithoxus plec described

                  – Three new species of Panaque described

– Two new species of plec described

– Suckermouths scrape for a living

– Two deepwater L-number plecs described

– Wood-grazing plecs aren’t all alike

– New Hypostomus from Venezuela

– New Lithoxus plec described from Guayana highlands

– Two new loricariids named

– L239 named Baryancistrus beggini

– Four L-number plecs get names



  • 2013: PBS Art21 documentary entitled 'In His Element' focused on my collaboration with artist David Brooks on evolution, ecology and conservation themed artwork.


  • 2013: 'Expedition Amazon Catfish', a profile of my research and fieldwork in the Calvin College Spark (alumnae magazine) by Gayle Boss: "For example, Lujan (now a National Science Foundation fellow at the Royal Ontario Museum) and colleagues are studying and documenting the many diverse catfishes that live in the lower Xingu River of central Brazil before the government builds a large dam that will destroy their only known habitat. 'I feel a tremendous urgency to describe these ecosystems before they’re gone,' he said. 'What we do is incredibly important to conservation, because it establishes a baseline for future generations, who may want to restore the natural state.'"


  • 2012–13: PlanetXingu Initiative, a collaboration between myself, co-PIs on the iXingu Project (Mark Sabaj Pérez, Leandro Sousa) and the aquarium fish hobbyist website to crowdfund scientific research and disseminate results of that research. Several articles and webinars were produced, including:

An Introduction to the Project (by Julian Dignall, founder of Planet Catfish)

Who is Nathan Lujan

We Did It! (by Julian Dignall)





  • 2011: Texas A&M Agrilife Research article on my research on wood-eating catfish: "Lujan said dam construction is a primary threat to his new discoveries and to the entire Amazon Basin. 'Many species are threatened by the massive disruptions dams cause to once free-flowing rivers,' he said. 'The debate over dam development versus conservation of biodiversity and populations of indigenous people is particularly intense in the Brazilian Xingu River where the huge Belo Monte Dam was recently started. The catfish Panaque armbrusteri  lives in areas that will be destroyed by Belo Monte.'"





  • 2007: Midwest Cichlid Association, Des Moines, Iowa: overview of doctoral field-work entitled: Ichthyological Explorations of the Neotropics.        


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