Eleven Missouri S&T students are currently in Ecuador as part of a study abroad course through the university’s environmental science program. The students are conducting research at Tiputini Biodiversity Station on the Rio Tiputini, located in the Amazon rainforest, to learn about Ecuador’s biodiversity, including volcanos and rainforests.
“This study abroad program evolved from our recent cooperative agreement with Universidad San Francisco de Quito,” says Dr. David Duvernell, chair and professor of biological sciences at Missouri S&T. “It is a first trip of its kind for our growing environmental science program, one which has seen demand continue to grow. Market projections show the demand for environmental scientists growing at 8%, compared to the national average job growth demand at 5%.”
The environmental science program at S&T prepares students for careers in environmental compliance, natural resources management, environmental health and safety, and for graduate and professional programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental scientists are in high demand due to increased public interest in environmental hazards, climate change and the needs of a growing population.
The trip is led by Dr. Robin Verble, associate professor of biological sciences at Missouri S&T, and Theodore Sumnicht, assistant teaching professor of biological sciences at S&T. Joining the S&T students are three students from the University of Missouri and one other researcher.
“We have been to cloud forests, hiked at 16,000 feet of elevation on Cotopaxi to learn about volcanos and paramo, and visited an indigenous family to learn local traditional knowledge systems,” Verble says. “We are also going to visit what is hypothesized to be the most biodiverse place on Earth to learn about rainforests and to engage the students in course-based undergraduate research.”
The following S&T students traveled to Ecuador:
• Alexandre Andes Gascon, a graduate student in graduate studies from Miami, Florida
• Alex Daniels, a graduate student in biological sciences from Troy, Missouri
• Carson Dudley, a junior in biological sciences from Livonia, Missouri
• Alexa Henry, a first-year student in undergraduate studies from Hoffman Estates, Illinois
• Dylan Johnson, a senior in biological sciences from Liberty, Missouri
• Patrick Lynch, a junior in environmental sciences from Dardenne Prairie, Missouri
• Vale, a sophomore in environmental sciences from St. Robert, Missouri
• Emily Robling, a senior in chemical engineering from Nixa, Missouri
• Samantha Smith, a junior in biological sciences from St. Charles, Missouri
• Ashley Snyder, a first-year student in undergraduate studies from Springfield, Missouri
• Elizabeth Sochacki, a first-year student in undergraduate studies from Homer Glen, Illinois
• Kaylee Stanley, a junior in biological sciences from Rolla, Missouri
• Riley VanCardo, a first-year student in undergraduate studies from Fenton, Missouri
• Sage Wood, a junior in biological sciences from Jefferson City, Missouri.
About Missouri S&T
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System and located in Rolla, Missouri, Missouri S&T offers 101 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top 10 universities for return on investment, according to Business Insider. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu.