Smithsonian Journeys Experts

Nina Zitani

photo of Nina Zitani

Dr. Nina Zitani is an accomplished field research biologist with a passion for teaching people of all ages and backgrounds about the wonders of the living parts of the natural world. Her published research includes discovering and naming 15 new insect species of Costa Rica; scientists have named eight new insect species in her honor. Recent research has focused on the ecology of the Onychophora (velvet worms) of Ecuador. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she uses her extraordinary creativity and photography to enrich her lectures on natural history, evolutionary biology, biodiversity and conservation science. For nearly 30 years she has been a science educator in the classroom and in the field. Her engaging natural history lessons on topics ranging from pollination, to the ecology of native plants and food webs, to the evolution of birds incorporate stories and imagery from her North American field experiences and 24 expeditions to Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru. Dr. Zitani resides in London, Ontario, Canada where she is the Curator of Zoological Collections and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Western University. 

What Our Travelers Say

Dr. Zitani gave excellent presentations that enhanced our experience on the Amazon River. Her knowledge of entomology and her emphasis on the importance of conserving biodiversity were fascinating. All of her previous experience in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru makes her the perfect companion and expert for this trip.

- Cate F.

Nina’s knowledge of the animals, plants and the the native people was impressive to say the least.  Her lectures were very interesting and presented in an understandable and organized manner.  Thank You Smithsonian for having Dr. Nina Zitani on your staff!

- Betty O.

What a find for Smithsonian. Nina is so very informed and absolutely loves to share her expertise. Great teacher and person.

- Smithsonian Journeys Traveler, Amazon River Cruise

Upcoming Tours

Cruising the Amazon Waterways

9 days | Starting at: $5,995
Oct 11, 2025 - Oct 19, 2025

Aboard the 44-guest Delfin III
Tour Details ››