Monday, October 25, 2010

Changes in Latitudes.... *

Fall is progressing in Vermont. The peak colors are past, we’ve had our first snow on Mount Mansfield and frost in the Champlain Valley, and the leaves have been falling from the trees. But it’s still sunny and warm down at the School for Field Studies field station on South Caicos Island, where SMC Bio major Emma Fox has been enjoying her fall semester abroad studying marine biology.

I’ll let Emma speak for herself - “The SFS Center for Marine Resource Management Studies is located on South Caicos, TCI. Our building is the old (modest) Admiral's Arms hotel, which looks out onto Long Cay and the most beautiful turquoise water I've ever seen! The local flora and fauna convince me that this is nowhere near Vermont...little anole lizards and hermit crabs crawl all over grass and plants in the Center. We're in the water every single day, whether we're out identifying corals, mangroves, and assorted fish species or doing a conch assessment exercise in the Marine Protected Area just offshore.

I love the hands-on approach here; it's one thing to be told, "This is the Pseudopterogorgia americana." It's whole other experience to then duck-dive down five feet and feel the base of the coral where it attaches to a rock--it's the only slimy Pseudopterogorgia species. Our classroom is, quite literally, the ocean. I'm learning all about fish biology, mangrove ecology, and conch ecology; and that's only my Marine Ecology class! In our Environmental Policy course, we recently wrote group proposals for solving the trash problem on South Caicos. Trash is a pretty obvious issue here--it's everywhere. There are few public trash cans on the street, and no recycling at all. So, people just throw their empty cans, bottles, and plastic containers onto the street. It's a pretty stark contrast to what looks like pristine water.

As you can probably tell, I'm really enjoying myself here. I still can't believe I'm in such a beautiful place. I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that this is my reality!”

There are many other study abroad opportunities through Saint Michael's College, and many can be used to customize your own approach to our Biology major. Saint Michael's College is an affiliate member of the School for Field Studies, which offers a variety of ecologically focused study abroad opportunities, including the programs in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

(*... with apologies to J. Buffett)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our House is open.....

This Saturday, October 16 (and again on November 13) our SMC Admissions Office will be hosting an Academic Preview Day. Among the day's activities will be Academic Presentations by several programs, including the Biology Department, at 2:30 and 3:10 pm. To provide an even greater opportunity for our visitors to learn about our Department and Program we will have a Bio Department Open House with some students and faculty available in the Biology Department (3rd floor of Cheray Science Hall) from 3:00 to 4:30 to meet prospective students and their families, show them around, and discuss our program and the opportunities, such as internships and research, that it provides. Please join us!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What's the News?

You can read it for yourself in the Fall 2010 issue of Biology Matters, the Biology Department's e-newletter. Thanks to all of the faculty and students who contributed. We also have an index to past issues.