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Capstone Projects

Lucia Tilson
Washington State University

After absorbing every bit of information available to us in Kruger National Park for the last 3 months, we OTS students have quite a few more questions than we have answers…

Skukuza and Biodiversity

Kelsey Adams
Adams State University

August already feels so long ago. For our group here at OTS South Africa, this first half of the program has been filled with getting to know one another, starting shenanigans, panicking about due dates, and marveling at….

Why OTS?

Author: Pablo Muñoz-Cambronero – Education Coordinator for OTS Yes, I know, one chooses OTS because of all the facilities, closeness to the forest, available data, laboratories, research cubicles, accommodations, 60 years of presence in the tropics, and all else. Well, all of this is real. Visit any of our OTS Research Stations and ask the […]

Thank you for believing I can fly

After graduating Occidental College this May, I had the utmost pleasure of spending the summer in South Africa with the Organization for Tropical Studies studying Health and Ecology. I had been looking forward to this abroad program for a long time and it truly was the most rewarding cherry on top of my college experience! [...]

Favorite Places Outside of Skukuza

Julio Tozetto
University of Connecticut

Surrounded by mountains, with a clear view down the valley, Pullen Farm was home for the first week of our OTS African Ecology and Conservation adventure. For us students, it was a week of getting to know each other and settling into life in South Africa….

Top Five Sightings in Kruger…so far

Jessica Stochel
Rutgers University

We have had incredible luck in our Kruger National Park (KNP) sightings. From cuddling lions to wandering secretary birds, so much has been seen only halfway through the course! Here are my top 5 sightings in Kruger so far…

Wildlife I’ve Never Seen Before

Annalee Anderson
Bradley University

So far, my time in Costa Rica has been incredibly fulfilling in numerous ways. From the captivating places we’ve…

Collaborative Sharing

Else Hayes
Bradley University

My time as part of the OTS Tropical Biology course is rapidly coming to an end. With only seven days left of this incredible experience, I am rushing to absorb the plethora of…

A lot of Monkeys, No Monkeying Around!

Andrea Lucia Ayala Guerrero
Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

It’s the first day of the program in Costa Rica, and we have just arrived at La Selva Biological Station. After settling in, we kick off our activities with a…

Conservation and Community

Catherine Soto
Washington State University

Hi there! My name is Catherine, and I am currently on a 4-week study abroad trip in Costa Rica hosted by OTS. As much as I miss home, this has truly been the experience of a lifetime. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been fortunate to witness and explore so much, and I cannot…

All About Forest Regeneration!

Atzin Martinez
University of Hawaii Manoa

Being a part of the OTS Tropical Field Biology course has presented me with many valuable experiences and opportunities. I’ve met many amazing and smart people, many of which have…

The Dream Team

Claire Asmussen
Northern Arizona University

When I arrived at Johannesburg airport for my study abroad experience with OTS, I was met by a recent graduate and employee of the organization. We sat and had coffee in the airport waiting for another student to arrive, and I asked questions about…

Presenting with Pride

Cielo Tumbokon
Rutgers University

Our last stop on our program was at the Las Cruces Biological Station. Here we took a tour of the..

Growing as a Scientist

Taylor Rose
California State University Long Beach

Throughout the past 15 days in the OTS Tropical Biology program, I have experienced things beyond my wildest…

Living one of my Greatest Dreams

Emily Solano Masis
Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica

Being a Costa Rican, the concept of biodiversity has been ingrained in me since my childhood. Today, I am living one of my greatest dreams…

Time is a Mystery

Orr Uzan-Tidhar
College of the Atlantic

This is Orr Uzan-Tidhar, writing to you from the depths of a Costa Rican rainforest (I’m actually typing this up on my laptop in my comfortable bed). Time truly feels elusive here. We’re already approaching the end of our fifth day, yet…

Living Life to the Fullest

Abbey Seivert
Northern Arizona University

Being part of this program, this summer has been the most influential and intense experience of my life. The adventure I have embarked on here has transformed me, making me stronger, smarter, and granting me unimaginable opportunities…

Impalas, the South African Squirrel

Alana Herr
Washington University in St. Louis

My name is Alana and I’m a junior at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolution. I’m interested generally in ecology and conservation, but…

An Experience That Marked My Soul

Darilis Martinez-Torres
University of Puerto Rico -Mayaguez

The tropical biology course allowed me to develop in many different areas, both academically and personally. I was able to learn a lot about myself during the past month and it was great to spend time with myself and…

Birding and Learning

Martin Stoner
Macalaster College

I arrived in San Jose with no idea of what to expect. Of course, I knew what the course was “supposed” to be like, but I really did not know what was in store for me until…

Three Stations in 30 Days

Arlene Polar
Purdue University

I would like to say that this has been the best experience I have gone through. The Organization for Tropical Studies has given me the opportunity to make memories, friends, and connections that will last a lifetime. Moreover, it has helped me find…

More than a Research Station

Julia Morin
University of Connecticut

OTS’ field station in South Africa, the Skukuza Research Station is the headquarters for the African Ecology & Conservation semester program. It is a beautiful research facility inside Kruger National Park with…

A Whole New World

Dr. Lisa Nupen
OTS Resident Lecturer

The unique plants and animals that occur in the new world Neotropics makes this an exceptionally exciting and special place for a biologist to visit – especially one like myself, who has studied and worked…

The Unforgettable Adventure

Emma Szegvari
Hamilton College

After nearly twenty-four hours of travel, I landed in the Johannesburg Airport. My excitement overcame my nerves while driving to the backpacker’s hotel to meet my twelve new classmates for the next three months. Recollecting on this moment, I could not have comprehended…

Solidifying My Dreams

Ben Crooke
Skidmore College

My study abroad experience in South Africa was one of the most illuminative experiences of my life. During those two months, I was forever surrounded by scientists interested in ecology and conservation. I was welcomed into OTS…

Saying Goodbye a Little Early

Dr. Laurence Kruger
OTS Program & Curriculum Director

This has been a semester like no other. Study abroad is a key part of many undergraduate students these days, and to have their semester cut short, was difficult indeed. Despite the massive disappointment and uncertainty, the students rolled up their sleeves and got the job done. In order to get fieldwork completed and deliverables wrapped up, our truncated workplan was somewhat intense. We did, however, seek to maximize…

The Best Experience of My Life that Almost Never Was

Alexis Tinoco
Washington University in St. Louis

My time in South Africa has undoubtedly been the best experience of my life, but it almost didn’t happen. I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but when it became a real opportunity, I found myself doubting whether it…

The Meaning of Shingwedzi

Dr. Bernard Coetzee
OTS Resident Lecturer

The next stop on the course was Shingwedzi in the north of the Kruger National Park. This region differs markedly from the southern part of Kruger, and is dominated by Mopane Shrubs (Colophospermum mopane). Shingwedzi a rest camp (i.e. tourist camp) and ranger’s post is located…

Lasting Impact in HaMakuya

Alexis Chan
Carleton College

As I write this, I am currently about halfway through my OTS experience in South Africa. So far, I’ve learned field skills in the South African savanna ecosystems and experienced the many different cultures of this amazing country…

There’s No Place Like Palo Verde

Ella Zhao
Emory University

Palo Verde, light of my life, fire of my mind. My agony, my ecstasy (not the drug). Pa-loh-vur-dey: the tip of the tongue taking the trip of four steps down the palate to tap, at four on the teeth. Pa. Loh. Vur. Dey. It was palo, refreshing palo, in the morning, caressing the mountain peak with a gentle breeze. It was hades, swarming with millions of fierce mosquitoes. It was nirvana, glistening in the gorgeous setting sun. It was the world of mortals, thriving in daylight and darkness. But deep down in my heart…

South Africa in 100 Days

Terrance Mitchell
Tuskegee University

The last 100 days traveling around South Africa has been an experience I will never forget! I have seen and done so many amazing things over my time being here. Even though I have been in South Africa for over three months, it feels like I just got off my flight from the United States. I can still remember…

Lessons from the Road

Scott Dai
George Washington University

As an OTS student, I’m exposed to unique experiences I wouldn’t really get in a typical college class. And with these unique experiences, there are many lessons that have been taught to me throughout the semester. Here’s a few lessons that I’ve learned…

Challenging an Introvert

Jessica Rehmann
Washington University in St. Louis

I dreaded the days leading up to my flight from the comforts of home, to go across the world to a new country and a new continent. My introverted self, shuddered at the thought of meeting an entirely new set of people with whom I would have to work, study, and live. I consoled myself with a few thoughts; one, that I had positive experiences of field research in the past, so I was looking forward…

Skukuza – the First Taste of Kruger!

Dr. Lisa Nupen
OTS Resident Lecturer

After making the long trip from Nylsvley the students finally arrived at one of the jewels on Africa’s protected area crown – the spectacular Kruger National Park. This is OTS South Africa’s main base at the SSLI the ‘Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative’. For a remote research station, SSLI has amazing facilities in…

The Perfect Way to Start

Olivia Lloyd
College of the Holy Cross

I’ve been in South Africa for exactly 2 weeks now but it feels like I’ve been here for 2 months. It could be because of the time difference, jam packed days of amazing activities, or because of how quickly I’ve become so close with all the people here. The first week spent in the Nylsvley nature reserve was the perfect way to adjust to life in South Africa. We went on game drives…

First Day of Field Work in South Africa

Nia Dubon-Robinson
Emory University

A long day in the field calls for a nice shower. The temperature of the water does not matter, the simple feeling of being refreshed is all that is needed after long hot day in the savanna. It was the first confusing but equally fun day doing field work…

The Best Part of South Africa

Ella Head
Duke University

While I was deciding whether or not I was going to study abroad in South Africa, lots of fears crossed my mind. I worried about all the things I would miss out on campus while I was abroad. I considered my senior friends who would graduate while I was away. I thought about…

Life in Nylsvley Nature Reserve and Kruger National Park

Emma Waltman
Washington University in St. Louis

The second leg of our OTS program in South Africa began when we entered Kruger National Park. We were previously staying at Nylsvley Nature Reserve, where we received a thorough introduction to savanna ecology in the classroom and in the field. Nylsvley was a particularly great first stop because…

Launching into Research

Dr. Tara Massad
OTS Resident Lecturer

The last ten days of the course have been packed with new skills and challenges. The students spent acouple productive days in the classroom to learn basic statistics and become familiar with the statistical analysis program most used by ecologists. They then moved to the field and…

Unforgettable Experience in Costa Rica

Sarah Sampson
Colgate University

This past semester in Costa Rica was an unforgettable experience. From being in a new environment and being immersed in a different culture, to learning about the diseases that…

Diversity on Display

Dennis Bolshakov
College of Wooster

I am a biology major from The College of Wooster in Ohio, United States, and I am currently with the OTS Tropical Biology semester in Costa Rica. Even though I study in Ohio, I am well-acquainted with rainforests, since I come from the temperate rainforest region in Washington State. However, the Costa Rican tropics are very different. They blew my mind, and every new site

Homestay in HaMakuya

Blythe Owen
Wheaton College

This week we challenged ourselves to try new things and completely immerse ourselves in an entirely different culture on our homestays in Hamakuya. We were split up into groups of 4 or 5 people and went into different villages to stay with a family for 3 days. It was the longest…

First Impressions Of Costa Rica

Mikayla Kifer
Bowdoin College

For most people, travelling is a way to explore differences. We like to contrast our “normal,” boring lives with something foreign and exciting; the distinctions between the two are intriguing. I like to focus onthe smallest changes—light switches, systems of garbage disposal, ratios of food pyramid groups. The way that we interact…

Looking Back on Costa Rica

Ryan Davis
Grinnell College

I have few experiences that I look back upon with such fondness and joy as my semester abroad with the OTS Tropical Biology program in Costa Rica. Throughout the semester, we took the time to visit and study a variety of incredible tropical landscapes–from cloud forests…