Field Trip to Panama, March 7-15, 2009

Lowland dry tropical rainforest in Soberania National Park.  We will explore this ecosystem in several reserves and national parks located in the region adjacent to the Panama Canal.



The canopy tower at the Rainforest Discover Center, Gamboa, allows easy access to the canopy of the forest, where we will observe birds and epiphytic plants.




Pre-Columbian artifacts at the National Anthropological Museum in Panama City.




A Harpy Eagle at the Summit Municipal Park in Gamboa.  This endangered species is the national bird of Panama.

Dr. Rick Essner and Dr. Peter Minchin, Department of Biological Sciences, SIUE, will be taking a group of students to Panama during Spring Break, 2009, to study the ecology and biodiversity of this beautiful tropical country.  As the meeting point between two continents, Panama has extremely high biodiversity, with 1,000 species of birds and 8,200 species of flowering plants, 1,200 of which are found nowhere else on Earth.  Initially the trip is open to all students enrolled in Biology 365 (Ecology), Biology 490 sec 002 (Wildlife Management) and Biology 490 sec 003 (Ornithology) in spring 2009.  If we have vacancies, the trip may be opened to other students later.


How to Apply

If you are interested in coming on this trip, the first step is to download and complete an international travel study student application form, which you will find at this link.  You will also need to write a one-page, single-spaced essay in which you describe yourself and your career goals and explain why you would like to take part in this excursion and what benefits you hope to derive from it.  Submit your application form and essay to either Dr. Minchin (Science Building room 3331c, phone 650-2975) or Dr. Essner (Science Building room 3327c, phone 650-2338) no later than Tuesday, November 25, 2008.

We will then contact all applicants to arrange interviews, after which we will select up to 12 students to come on the trip.  If you are selected, you will then have to pay your airfare (approximately $800) by Tuesday, December 2, 2008, so that flight bookings can be made.

Selected students will need to purchase an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which provides overseas accident and medical insurance, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation coverage.  The card costs $22 and can be purchased online at this link or through the SIUE Office of Study Abroad.  Students will also need to have a valid passport.  A passport application form can be downloaded from the US State Department Passport Office at this link. Passport applications must be submitted no later than January 7, 2009.  The current total passport fee for persons aged 16 and older is $97.


Student costs for the trip are being generously subsidized by International Programs at SIUE and by travel grants from the College of Arts and Sciences, SIUE.  We expect that each student will have to pay approximately $800, which is equal to the cost of the airfare alone.

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Skyline of Panama City, one of the world's most rapidly developing urban areas.

Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal.