Catherine Woodward

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Teaching Faculty III

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Phone: 608-263-9020

340 Birge Hall

Catherine Woodward headshot


I am broadly interested in the drivers and impacts of biodiversity loss and climate change, and the ecological, socioeconomic, and policy tools for addressing these dual environmental threats.  Specifically, I focus on:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation
  • Tropical forest conservation and restoration approaches
  • Policies for and implementation of diverse incentives for conservation
  • Land use, water quality, and linkages to human health
  • Matrix management for enhancing biodiversity


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Botany from UW-Madison, 2005
  • Master of Science in Botany from the University of Florida-Gainesville 1995
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology from UW-Madison, 1990.
  • Professional Certificate in Online Education, 2017


I am a tropical ecologist and professional educator with 25 years of teaching experience in botany, terrestrial and marine ecology, and conservation biology. My goal is to engender “biophilia” – a love of nature – by helping students understand how their own well-being is linked to the biology and conservation of the world’s most biodiverse and threatened ecosystems. I recognize that students come from a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, and learn best when they make connections between new content and prior knowledge and experiences. My role as a teacher is to help students discover those connections for themselves, using high-impact, science-based pedagogy.

UW-Madison courses currently taught:

  • Rainforests and Coral Reefs FIG (Botany 265)
  • Conservation Biology (Botany, F&WE, EnvirSt 651)
  • Tropical Ecosystems (Botany 575)
  • Dendrology (Botany 402)

Teaching Awards:

2022: Alliant Energy Underkofler Award for Excellence in Teaching.

2022: Award for Outstanding Contribution to the FIG Program

2020: Exceptional Mentorship Award from UW Undergraduate Research Scholars program.

2017: University Housing Honored Instructor Award

Conservation work:

I am co-founder and President of the Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation, a Madison-based non-profit, with a mission to connect tropical nature and sustainable livelihoods through habitat protection and environmental education.  I oversee conservation projects and teach the Tropical Conservation Semester in Ecuador.  This experiential learning program takes undergraduate students from around the country to study the ecology of the Andes, Amazon and Galapagos islands.  Students are immersed in Ecuadorian culture and participate in real-world conservation projects run by Ceiba and other conservation organizations.  I also have taught other field courses including Coral Reef Ecology in Belize and Water for Life: Sustainability and Community Health, a Global Health Field Experience.  Ceiba has helped communities in coastal Ecuador establish Conservation and Sustainable Use Areas totaling over 500,000 acres, and applies innovative incentives to encourage landowners to conserve forest, protect water resources, and improve the sustainability of agriculture.


Woodward, C., L. Fernández, and J. Meisel. (in press).  Wildlife Mortality on an Ecuadorian Coastal Highway.  Neotropical Biodiversity.

Woodward, C., D. Gagnon & C. Seidl. 2011.  Key to Woody Plants of Wisconsin Forests. iPhone App.

Woodward, C. and D. Laufenberg.  2010.  Parental care and nestling development of the beautiful jay (Cyanolyca pulchra) in Northwestern Ecuador.  Neotropical Ornithology 21:611-614.

Woodward, C., P. E. Berry and H. Maas-van de Kamer. 2007. Tiputinia foetida, a new mycoheterotrophic genus of Thismeaceae from Amazonian Ecuador, and a likely case of deceit pollination. Taxon, 56(1).

Herre, E.A., S. A.Van Bael, Maynard, Z., Robbins, N., Bischoff, J., Arnold, A. E., Rojas, E., Mejia, L.C., R. A. Cordero, C. Woodward, and D.A.Kyllo. 2005.  Tropical plants as chimera: some implications of foliar endophytic fungi for the study of host plant defense, physiology, and genetics.  In: Burslem, D.F.R.P., Pinard, M.A. & Hartley, S.E. (eds). Biotic Interactions in the Tropics. Cambridge University Press.

Meisel, J. and C. Woodward.  2004.  Andean orchid conservation and the role of private lands: A case study from Ecuador.  Proceedings of the IV International Orchid Conservation Congress.  Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. May 16-23, Sarasota, FL.

Woodward. 1996. Soil compaction and topsoil removal effects on soil properties and seedling growth in Amazonian Ecuador. Forest Ecology and Management, 82:197-209.