Omar Attum is an Associate Professor of Biology at Indiana University Southeast (IUS). His scholarly activity centers around his passion for conservation of wildlife in the Middle East, Saharan and Arabian deserts, and the Red Sea. He is also interested in studying which heritage and cultural practices allow wildlife to persist in semi-modified landscapes.
Some of his more recent scholarly activity includes: creating a conservation research program by training members of a Sinai Bedouin community to use pictographs to collect systematic data on the endangered Egyptian tortoise in Sinai, Egypt; studying the relationship between the historical distribution of extinct leopards with human settlements and environmental factors in South Sinai, Egypt; population dynamics of Arabian oryx and Nubian ibex; and assessing the status of coral reef fish communities in the Red Sea.
As an ACOR-CAORC Postdoctoral Fellow in Jordan, his research project examines the biodiversity value of cultural and archaeological landscapes in Northern Jordan. He is comparing the biodiversity of the archaeological site Umm Qais with the Yarmouk Protected Area under the Royal Society for Conservation of the Nature and with selected olive groves. The preliminary results suggest that archaeological sites can have similar or higher density of biodiversity than natural sites because archaeological sites have higher densities of vertical rock habitat than natural areas. This research potentially provides additional justification for archaeological landscapes in Jordan receiving more protection. In addition, promoting the archaeological site’s biodiversity would further enrich the travel experience of visiting tourists.
Before joining IUS, Dr. Attum was a wildlife biologist with the Zoological Society of London, where he studied the conservation issues of reintroduced large mammals in Saudi Arabia. He was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Reptile and Amphibian Conservation and Management at Indiana Purdue University, Fort Wayne.
A self-taught photographer, his credits include National Geographic Magazine, The Courier Journal, Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Shutterbug, Egypt Today, and The Jordan Times. He also published his photographs from all of his Sinai exhibitions into the book, Sinai: Landscape and Nature in Egypt’s Wilderness (AUC press 2014).
He is on the editorial board of the journals, Journal for Nature Conservation and Herpetological Conservation & Biology. He is also on the Scientific Committee of Saharan Conservation Fund. He obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Louisville where he studied which types of wildlife were going to survive desertification in Sinai, Egypt. He is a two-time Fulbright fellow and was a recipient of a Blue Earth Alliance Photography fellowship.