ECU undergraduates learn biology in Costa Rican rainforests and coral reefs

Jeff McKinnon (Biology) recently completed a spring break study abroad trip to Costa Rica with 14 undergraduate students, most enrolled for introductory laboratory credit. During this field intensive, students learned biological concepts and facts deeply and directly by studying coral reefs and tropical rainforests, collecting citizen science data that will be valuable for conservation and basic research. Most students were making their first international trip and several were flying for the first time. All (their instructor too) were thrilled to hear (and see) howler monkeys and toucans at dawn in the forest and queen angel fish and nurse sharks in the Caribbean. The chance to play pickup soccer with local teenagers and attend a community reggae festival were unplanned bonuses. The course was designed to be inexpensive, inclusive and accessible for a wide range of students and many more students applied than could be accepted. McKinnon hopes to expand the program in 2024.