David Kenfack is a Staff Scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, based at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. He received his PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the USA (2008). He also holds a “Doctorat 3ème Cycle” in Plant Systematics (1995), and a MSc in Plant Ecology (1988) from the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon.
He coordinates the Africa Program of the Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO), a network of scientists and forest research sites spanning 27 countries worldwide. ForestGEO is the largest and most important research network dedicated to advancing long-term study of the world's forests and strengthening the scientific capacity of collaborating scientists and institutions. The ForestGEO Africa program currently includes partner institutions and long-term monitoring plots in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya and Nigeria, and is gradually expanding to include all main vegetation types in Africa.
His personal research focusses on the systematics, the ecology and the long-term dynamics of African forests. Precisely, 1) documenting and discovering plant biodiversity of African forests using alpha taxonomy techniques; 2) testing species boundaries and cryptic diversity in African plant groups with challenging taxonomy using a multidisciplinary approach (morphological, molecular, ecological and spatial data), 3) understanding the evolution and diversification of African forest using molecular phylogenetics and 4) documenting the changes in diversity, forest structure and productivity of African forests in long-term monitoring plots.
His work is vital not only for botanical and vegetation studies, but also for understanding carbon sequestration and many other aspects of global cycling of chemicals and nutrients. Through the partnership with African universities and research institutions, he has been gradually building a core of young motivated and competent scientists that can carry forward the work initiated by ForestGEO in their respective countries
He is author of over 80 peer-reviewed publications and a dozen of book chapters.