Anayansi Cohen Fernandez


Anayansi was born in Mexico City and spent her teenage years in Panama. While working as an interpreter at the Metropolitan Natural Park, she began her undergraduate studies on biology.

After moving back to Mexico City in 1989, she earned a BSc in Biology at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana. To urban life fans, Mexico City is a great place to live in but Anayansi loves wilderness and open spaces so decided to head south to the Yucatan Peninsula where she earned an MSc in Conservation and Management of Natural Tropical Resources from the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan. Her thesis involved developing a model for sustainable use of natural populations of the tree Bursera simaruba (L) Sarg, in semidesciduos tropical forests of Campeche, Mexico.

After completing her MSc, Anayansi worked for several years as an environmental consultant in touristy, fast growing Cancun. During her time there, she realized that the development of a city often causes severe land disturbances associated with the extraction of materials to support the development of urban infrastructure and housing.

Limestone, the principal component of cement and aggregates for construction, has been extracted for centuries in the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as around the world. Looking at the number and magnitude of the limestone open pits, it became clear to Anayansi that she wanted to learn about and research ways to rehabilitate these extraction sites. Her research aims to develop soil building techniques and the establishment of a diverse native plant community in a limestone quarry. Her field site is located in Exshaw, Southern Alberta.

In 2005 she was awarded a scholarship from the Mexican Agency for Science and Technology, CONACyT, for Doctoral Studies in the Land Reclamation and Remediation Program at the University of Alberta. Anayansi was awarded the Donald A. Shaw Memorial Graduate Scholarship 2007, the Canadian Land Reclamation Association Academic Merit Award 2008 and the GSA International Student Award 2008.. She was supervised by Anne Naeth. Anayansi completed her PhD and is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow in Renewable Resources, working at Dr Anne Naeth's reclamation lab.

Besides her research work, Anayansi is a member of the U of A Festival of Teaching Steering Committee. She had a great time in January 2008 performing together with other grad students from Renewable Resources as one of the Wandering Scholars during the inaugural Festival of Teaching. She is very interested in international land reclamation, soil building, plant ecology, natural resources management and teaching. She loves a whole bunch of things, among them her family and friends, movies (good ones more than bad ones) and travel to new places, which right now means anywhere north of Edmonton.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2008 edition of the Landmark Newsletter.

Added: 18 October 2010
Updated: 18 June 2012