Robert Rio Hahn

Sustainability, Ecotechnics, Ethnopharmacology, Exploration and Communications

Sea Captain Robert Rio Hahn, popularly known by the sobriquet Rio, given to him when leading an expedition 2000 miles up the Amazon River, brings a unique set of qualities and experience to the projects he manages and consults.  Rio has applied his talents in a number of fields, including sustainable ecology, exploration, marketing, communications, multi-cultural international for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, photography and filmmaking, the travel industry, and real estate development and investment.
Rio’s own company, Technical Operations Group, engages in project management and consulting, and photography/film/video production under the trade name Adventure Media. He serves as President of the not-for-profit Planet Water Expeditions, operator of the research vessel Heraclitus, built by himself and his associates at the Institute of Ecotechnics, a London based think-tank that specializes in hands-on ecologically sustainable projects.  Rio is a Founding Director and past President of the Institute.  He served as Scientific Chief and overall project manager for the Institute’s two-year ethnopharmacological Amazon research expedition, and then organized and was Expedition Chief for a three-year circumnavigation expedition of the tropic world.  He co-produced and co-directed a series of cultural documentary films from the expedition, as well as managing the co-production contract with Zagreb Television in Yugoslavia. 

He was a co-initiator of the $220M Biosphere 2 Project, the mini-world that housed 4 men and 4 women for two years in the world’s first and largest closed life-support system that attracted worldwide media attention.  As a Director of the Institute of Ecotechnics, he participated in the fifteen years of research that led to the project, designed to test our understanding of earth’s biosphere and develop life support systems for space exploration and habitation.  During his ten-year involvement with the Biosphere 2 Project, which involved taking it from conception to full-scale operation, Rio served as Director of Communications, and Director of Marketing, raising $2.5M in corporate sponsorship for the for-profit company with public goals.

For nearly forty years, Rio has been a principal of an innovative scientific/artistic/ecological project design, implementation, and management team that conceived and developed projects which include, in addition to the Biosphere 2 Project and the research vessel Heraclitus, construction and operation of the first joint American-Nepali-Tibetan hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal, a performing arts center in downtown Ft. Worth, Texas, an art gallery and conference center in central London, a 1000 acre rainforest project in Puerto Rico, a conference center in the South of France, in Western Australia a 5,000 acre savannah project and a half-million acre cattle ranch, a retreat/learning center near Santa Fe, New Mexico, and an international trading company. 

Capt. Hahn has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London, and The Explorers Club, the world’s only interdisciplinary society devoted to scientific field research, whose world headquarters is located in New York City.  He recently completed two terms, six years, as a Director and Ombudsman on the international Board of The Explorers Club, prior to which he was Chairman of the San Diego Chapter for five years.  He has been the recipient of five Explorers Club flags, and was made a High Chief of Western Samoa during his circumnavigation voyage.

Rio was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, with an individualized major in communications.  He then spent six months as an apprentice-in-residence with Prof. Minor White, founder and head of the MIT Department of Photography, living in and managing White’s in-house operation and teaching some of his in-residence classes.  Returning to Penn, he received a graduate certificate in microbial technology from the Engineering School, and later did further graduate work in communications at the University of Arizona.

He conceived and co-developed a plant screening field test kit with Dr. Robert Raffauf at Northeastern University and Dr. Richard Evans Schultes at the Harvard Botanical Museum.  He invented and marketed one of the first plant treatments to combine microorganisms with major and minor plant nutrients, and was co-inventor of the Airtron room air purifier, a patented spin-off technology development from Biosphere 2. 

His numerous speaking engagements include delivering the keynote presentation to the AMR/Information Week 1993 Information Strategies Conference, “Fusing Information Systems With The Business,” in Phoenix, AZ.  He has published a number of articles on his field research, and recently contributed chapters to two new exploration books, “Adventurous Dreams, Adventurous Lives,” and “They Lived to Tell the Tale.”

Rio operates from his five-acre villa in rural north San Diego County, California, where he and his wife also raise and market specialty organic avocados (, and he publishes from his extensive photographic archive.
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