Kaoru Kitajima is a forest ecologist with over 30 years of research experience, especially in tropical America and Asia. She has held faculty positions at Kyoto University, Japan (2013-current) and the University of Florida (1997-2013), and a research associate position with Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. As council member of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (2006-2017), she has fostered the networking of tropical forest scientists across disciplines. She received a B.S. from the University of Tokyo, and M.S. and Ph.D from the University of Illinois. Her main research interests encompass the ecology of seedling regeneration of tropical trees, forest tree responses to climate and other environmental factors, and ecosystem functions of plant and microbial diversity in tropical forests.