Jonathan Iglesisa with telemetry equipment.

Jonathan Iglesisa with telemetry equipment.

FIU, Zoo Miami and the Zoo Miami Foundation are teaming up to expand conservation research opportunities for undergraduate college students.

The joint effort has been awarded a three-year, $378,000 Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site grant from the National Science Foundation. It will provide fully funded opportunities for FIU students and others from colleges throughout the United States to gain experience conducting independent research in conservation biology at Zoo Miami. Students will be mentored by conservation biologists and conservation education researchers at FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education and the Zoo’s conservation scientists and wildlife veterinarians.

Ten students will be accepted into the program each year during the

summers of 2020, 2021 and 2022. The program organizers hope to recruit students from minority groups underrepresented in science careers and students from universities with limited exposure to research.

Elizabeth Anderson, project co-lead and an FIU assistant professor of Earth and Environment said, “Miami is an ideal lab for learning about conservation science, while surrounded by iconic locations like the Everglades and coastal reefs.”

The National Science Foundation funds dozens of REU sites across the US and internationally, but most are at research universities, field stations, or museums. As the only zoo-based REU program within the U.S., this grant could enhance the national capacity to train a new generation of conservation biologists for research careers working in and alongside zoos.

Steven Whitfield, an FIU alumnus and conservation and research specialist at Zoo Miami who is a project co-lead. “This grant will allow us totrain research students in a unique environment with real-world opportunities and challenges of doing conservation research at a zoo.”

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