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Robert Villa

Board Member (2024)
Bob Villa

I’m a proud Spanish-speaking Tucsonan and conservationist deeply in love with the Sonoran region — studying, exploring, and documenting it’s biol-cultural diversity (often with violin in tow) most of my adult life – specializing in amphibians, reptiles, plants/horticulture, agave and sotol appreciation, landscape evolution and biogeography, ethnoecology, and gastronomy. I’ve consulted for and assisted in the production of multimedia in the Sonoran region, and published and presented in academic, popular, and local outlets. I currently preside Tucson Herpetological Society, and am research associate and curator of garden and greenhouse at the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, University of Arizona. I’m a member of NextGen Sonoran Desert Researchers, Madrean Discovery Expeditions, and Tucson’s Mission Garden. I grow various plants (the result of an unexpected apprenticeship and friendship under the tutelage of renowned plantsman and ecologist Mark A. Dimmitt in 2011), and keep reptiles as educational ambassadors to the Sonoran Desert. In 2019, I had the honor of meeting with Sir David Attenborough as part of consulting on his series on plants, Green Planet. I have worked in a variety of settings, interacting and cooperating with an eclectic swath of folks to meet the project at hand. From celebrities, dignitaries, researchers, and artists, to cowboys, mezcal makers, small town mayors, and “clandestine workers” – I’ve helped with charity events in Manhattan, helped organize regional and international conferences, surveyed for endangered species among clandestine operations in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands, and otherwise explored various corners of the Sonoran Desert region. I consider myself a follower in the footsteps of Sonoran naturalist-explorers such as Howard Scott Gentry, Paul Martin, Charles Lowe, Tom Van Devender, Ana Lilia Reina-Guerrero, Mark Dimmitt, Martha Burgess, and others. They have shaped me personally, as a regional researcher and naturalist, investigating, documenting, and espousing the tangible and intangible heritage of a region defined and embraced by varied regions, cultures, and languages.

Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society (TCSS)

PO Box 64759  -  Tucson, AZ 85728-4759   -   Phone: (520) 256-2447  -  Email:

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