Biology Students Study in the Tropics

Tropical Marine Course Photo 1

UCF Biology and Pegasus Professor Linda Walters, Ph.D., took a group of UCF students to the tropics in Belize this summer as part of her Tropical Marine Biology study abroad course.

Offered every two years, this program gives undergraduate UCF biology students the opportunity to spend one week on an island to study marine ecosystems and biodiversity. The students then put that knowledge to use through underwater group research. Students keep track of their progress with an electronic photo-log book and write discussions and essays to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. For 10 years, the course has been offered in Raotan, Honduras but is taking place in Belize for a second time.

Tropical Marine Course Photo 2

Biology students snorkeling off the coast of Belize on the Glover’s Reef Atoll. Photo By: Ashley Zirkle

From July 4 – 12 Dr. Walter’s and her students spent the week the examining the biodiversity of tropical coral reefs through photo-organism collections at the Glover’s Island Research Station. Students also examined the densities of queen conchs in varying waters and looked at Christmas tree worm/hard coral interactions.

“Through these efforts, students in the class were actively engaged in their learning and it was fun to watch confidence and scientific rigor develop so quickly,” said Dr. Walters. “I wish everyone at UCF was able to experience something they are passionate about in a new environment, especially when they can immerse themselves in this world. Study abroad provides this opportunity.”

Students such as UCF biology senior Meagan Minadie found that studying abroad provided a crucial learning experience in her undergraduate career path, as well as personal one.

“This course allowed me to gain knowledge and experience I would never have been able to achieve from just sitting in a classroom,” said Minadie. “Snorkeling and doing research in coral reef environments with such an intimate class size and amazing professor has not only allowed me to become a better scientist in my field, but a better person for breaking me out of the mold of a typical college student.”

To be eligible to apply, science undergraduates must have taken two semesters of biology as well as a minimum GPA of 2.5 .

Comments are closed.