Leader: Dr. Jacqueline McLaughlin, Associate Professor of Biology, Director, CHANCE, Penn State Lehigh Valley
Co-instructor: Dr. Kathleen Fadigan, Assistant Professor of Science Education,
Co-instructor: Dr. Karen Kackley-Dutt, Instructor of Biology, Penn State Lehigh Valley
Co-instructor: Darin Munsell, Graduate Student, Illinois Institute of Technology
Trip (practicum) Includes: All instruction and guide services; all meals and lodging as stated in the itinerary; all ground and water transportation within Panama; all entrance fees to National Parks and other sites; round-trip international airfare to Panama.
Trip Does Not Include: Passport fees; Penn State mandatory HTH Worldwide Study Abroad insurance (~ $2.00/day); gratuities to guides, drivers, or transfer personnel; laundry; telephone calls; or any other expenses of a personal nature.
Field Lectures:Daily presentations on key environmental, conservation, and educational topics educational will be given by: researchers and scientific collaborators; Drs. McLaughlin, Fadigan, and Kackley-Dutt, and Mr. Darin Munsell; and 497-level CHANCE participants.
* This experience will be rigorous and challenging. Please review physical requirements before considering to participate.
** Final destinations and events are subject to change.
Located at the confluence of the Chagres River and the Panama Canal, Gamboa once housed Panama Canal Commission engineers. Gamboa is now home to several STRI programs, including the effects of atmospheric conditions on plant growth, the defenses tropical plants develop against disease, and a reforestation program. In addition, Gamboa serves as the staging area for STRI research in Soberanía National Park and the Barro Colorado Nature Monument.
In October 2007, STRI purchased 17.5 acres of land in Gamboa from the Government of Panama. This was the first step in STRI's long-term strategic plan to establish a new campus in Gamboa that will support advanced research on plant physiology and global climate change, as well as studies on the role tropical forests play in providing ecosystem services such as clean water and carbon storage under changing environmental conditions. In addition, the Republic of Panama has granted custodianship to STRI of 156 acres of adjacent forest.
BCI is a biological reserve under the custodianship of STRI. The island is part of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument and, since 1923 has been an international center for tropical forest research. Each year, more than 250 scientists come to study ecology, evolution and the island's extraordinary flora and fauna. Here young scientists from universities around the world conduct research and are trained in research techniques. The 16 km2 island, has a greater plant biodiversity than all of Europe and over 500 species of vertebrates including 384 species of bird, 5 species of monkey, 74 species of bat and 30 species of frog. Studies conducted on Barro Colorado Island have been key in improving knowledge of biological processes in the tropics.
The original large (50 hectare) tropical forest dynamics plot was established on BCI in 1980. Over the past 30 years, STRI has developed a global network of compatible forest plots known as the Center for Tropical Forest Science, and since the network has recently expanded to the temperate zone, the network has changed its name to the Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatories (SIGEO); a large data set is available to all on the web. This system is uniquely positioned to investigate key indicators of global environmental change.
A former military base with a breathtaking view of the Canal and coast, Culebra Point has been converted by STRI into a center for environmental outreach and marine education. At Culebra, with support from HSBC Panama, we introduce 25,000 Panamanian schoolchildren a year to their marine heritage and the role of science in understanding and conserving nature and natural resources. Annually, the Nature Center hosts 70,000 visitors. Culebra has a mix of habitats including rocky shore, sandy beach and dry forest environments, with wildlife such as shorebirds, sloths and iguanas.
Galeta was a US Navy installation part of the famous Coco Solo Naval Station. In 1959 STRI began research in Galeta on local tropical coastal habitats-coral reefs, mangrove forests and sea grass beds. In 1973 the marine scientific monitoring program of the Caribbean started. In 2000 Galeta began its marine environmental education program linking its research to the Panamanian classrooms. In 2008 the Laboratory received 10,000 students from Panama, hosted by its 16 nature guides and volunteers. In 2003 the outreach program aimed at local fishermen began and in 2007 the teacher training program to improve the teaching of the sciences.
This Center is an oasis of natural beauty in the heart of Panama's most impoverished and industrial region, and is having a strong impact on education and quality of life in Colon. Meet the staff of the Center and enjoy the exhibits, including the mangrove boardwalk. Your host will be Stanley Heckadon, director of facility and STRI's Public Programs.
The Bocas del Toro Research Station (BRS), a field station of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) on Panama's Western Caribbean coast, is an ideal platform for both marine and terrestrial research. The station hosts a diverse group of Smithsonian scientists, their colleagues and students.
Activities at the station contribute to the Smithsonian Institution's primary mission: the increase and diffusion of knowledge. BRS visitors are engaged in research on the biodiversity, ecology, paleontology and archaeology of the Bocas del Toro region. Educational and outreach activities range from hosting K-12 school groups, to specialized training for international graduate students.
Founded in 1998, the BRS campus has provided field accommodation since 2002 and a fully operational research laboratory since 2003. Subsequent development of a running seawater system, a new dock, boat ramp, and additional support facilities, as well as two houses to accommodate visiting researchers, soon followed. The BRS now boasts the most up-to-date research facilities among the preeminent field stations in the Caribbean.