Biology graduate student Gina Vaira spent two weeks conducting field work in Borneo for a study-abroad course offered through Miami University and Earth Expeditions.
Students in the field course were drawn from many backgrounds and geographical areas, but shared interests in field research and the conservation of endangered primates. Course participants stayed in local housing at remote field sites while they conducted surveys for primates and other native fauna. They partnered with local communities, conservation, and education groups to develop outreach programs, as they honed their own field skills studying the social behavior of primates, habitat selection, census methods, and the impact of forest fragmentation and reforestation on native fauna. During their stay, course participants observed numerous endangered species in their natural habitats, including wild orangutans, macaques, gibbons, and slow lorises.
Following her return to the US, Vaira is now completing the writing component of her course, including work on the use of social networks in endangered species conservation and small ape education campaigns. Vaira also has arranged to give educational presentations based on her experience at several universities, zoos, and conservation organizations.
Vaira completed the course to complement her IUP thesis research on non-human primate cognition. Her thesis research is being advised by faculty member Paul Nealen.
For more information on the conservation needs of Borneo and the field course itself, please visit the Earth Expeditions Borneo course home page or the Earth Expeditions website.
IUP Department of Biology