Researchers and students gain new insights and make new connections in Panama

Student participants join researchers to support international conservation efforts

Researchers and students gain new insights and make new connections in Panama

Student participants join researchers to support international conservation efforts

Last August, two recent high school graduates joined two postdoctoral scholars from the University on a trip to Panama. The goal of the trip was to monitor amphibian populations and to engage the local community in conservation efforts, and the trip was a resounding success.

Vanesa de la Cruz Pavas is a science and environmental journalist from Colombia. At the time, she was working toward her master’s degree in journalism, and she now works as a science communications specialist for the Hitchcock Project for Visualizing Science. She and Michelle Werdann, a science writer for the College of Science at the University, joined the researchers in El Valle de Antón in Panama to report on the research.

What came of the reporting is a multimedia ArcGIS StoryMap, “University of Nevada, Reno in Panama” which shares more about the research and community outreach activities.

The StoryMap includes interviews with the researchers about the catastrophic fungal pathogen that nearly wiped out many species of amphibians in the region, and interviews with two STEM Sisters, students who participated in the program developed by Trevor J. McMinn Endowed Research Professor Jamie Voyles.

Videos show wide-ranging activities, from rugged fieldwork to fulfilling community interactions. de la Cruz Pavas wrote a blog post about the experience to pair with her video about the research.

This experience felt like being a researcher for a day,” de la Cruz Pavas said. "We were gathering video material, but at the same time, we were helping the team find the frogs, walking down the transects, and learning about different amphibians. I hope the videos and pictures can reflect how hard this research team works and how beautiful Panama is."

Werdann spoke with the STEM Sisters to learn about what they took away from participating in the program.

“This was such an incredible experience and opportunity,” Werdann said. “I can’t thank Jamie and the students and postdocs enough for inviting us on this adventure. It's clear to see the real impact the STEM Sisters program had on these students.”