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About GSF

Gorgas Science Foundation (GSF) was founded in 1947, meeting for the first time in a biology classroom on the campus of Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, Texas. This classroom had previously served as the hospital ward for historic Fort Brown, a United States cavalry post on the banks of the Rio Grande River across the river from Mexico. The foundation was named for Dr. William Crawford Gorgas a young Army Medical Corps officer who worked at Fort Brown in 1880. It was here that Dr. Gorgas came in direct contact with a yellow fever epidemic. In fact, he contracted yellow fever and survived it. This experience started him on a path that would lead to a milestone in medicine. By the end of the Spanish – American War, Gorgas became the Chief Sanitary Officer in Havana, Cuba working to eradicate yellow fever and malaria. Gorgas built on his earlier observations in Brownsville and the work of another army doctor, Major Walter Reed and Cuban doctor, Carlos Finlay, to prove the mosquito transmission of yellow fever. He won international fame battling the illness first in Florida, later in Havana, Cuba and finally Panama. His work was instrumental, facilitating the construction of the Panama Canal and saving millions of lives in the tropical regions of the world. He would later become Surgeon General of the United States.

For the last seven decades Gorgas Science Foundation has worked to provide the highest quality educational opportunities, foster awareness of ecological issues, encourage conservation of endangered ecosystems and produce nature related films and books.

The character of Gorgas Science Foundation was ingrained by its founder, biology professor Barbara T. Warburton. She encouraged her students to strive for excellence and to never be defeated or deterred from their chosen path. She demonstrated what one person could accomplish despite overwhelming odds. Many of us, her former students and community members, continue to be guided by her example.

Since the mid 1960’s Gorgas Science Foundation, in a partnership with Texas Southmost College and later The University of Texas at Brownsville, built and operated biology field stations in the relict cloud forests along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in the southern part of the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. The field station at Rancho del Cielo became an award winning education and conservation program.

From the start, GSF was involved in the effort to protect and save the endangered forest around Rancho del Cielo. By the mid 1980’s this resulted in one of the most important reserves in the Western Hemisphere – the 360,000 acre El Cielo Biosphere Reserve under the auspices of United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In recent years GSF expanded its conservation focus to the Western Ghats of southwestern India. In support of local efforts, GSF produced an hour-long documentary, Sahyadris, Mountains of the Monsoon,which was broadcast in Asia on the Discovery Channel. This award winning film helped galvanize public support for conservation in that unique montane habitat.

GSF continues to develop and publish books, films and science curricula focusing on nature. We make effective use of the “image” as a vehicle to educate, inspire and reinforce public support for conservation of endangered ecosystems and the cultural heritage in endangered areas.

Gorgas Science Foundation currently works with Audubon to protect one of the last groves of rare old-growth Sabal Palm forests in the United States. Our headquarters is located in the Historic Rabb Plantation House, adjacent to Sabal Palm Sanctuary. The sanctuary is tucked away in a bend of the Rio Grande River southeast of Brownsville, Texas.