John Callahan recently traveled to Costa Rica for Partners in the Park, which is an outdoor learning experience supported by the National Collegiate Honors Council. PITP projects at national parks across the country offer unique opportunities for collegiate honors students and faculty to visit areas of the American landscape noted for their beauty, significance and lasting value. Topics covered through this trip included biological corridors, tourism, tropical mountain ecosystems and transition zones, ornithology, herpetology, sustainable agriculture and other topics based on the availability and expertise of seminar leaders. Although the primary focus was on the resources, management and issues in the parks, students also had the chance to participate in a humanitarian service project and an afternoon of river rafting.
I had a wonderful trip with the Appalachian Trail PITP program two weeks ago. The Virginia mountains were gorgeous and I learned a lot about conservation issues along the trail. Included are a few pictures from the trip. Some are of my group doing trail maintenance volunteer work, some are of the forest, and one is of me at the Blacksburg Farmer’s market during the trip. I am deeply grateful for you and the Honors program for giving me this unforgettable experience!
Honors Council wrapped up the 2018-2019 academic year with a social in McKay Hall. The social had catering by Green Lemon and was Star Wars themed as it took place on May 4th. There were games, a Star Wars themed cake, and a photobooth with Star Wars props.
Recent Honors Program graduates, Kellie Etling and Caitlyn Johannes, submitted their short documentary, Queerly Beloved, to the Amazon Prime All Voices Film Festival and it was accepted. If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch the video here. The video explores gender, sexuality, and the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals.
I had the incredible opportunity this past May to share my current undergraduate research at the 39th Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (AMLC) Scientific Conference in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. My research consisted of the growth and mortality rate of a photosynthetic sea slug, Elysia subornata, which is found native in the Caribbean, depending on its diet.
The conference was an amazing learning experience that enabled me to network with universities and individuals in the scientific community from all over the Caribbean. I was able to observe up and coming research techniques, attend a coral microfragmentation workshop hosted by none other than Dr. David Vaughnan, and create both professional and personal relationships with individuals just as passionate about research and conservation as I am.
The final Honors symposium of the 2018-2019 academic year was organized by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry. Dr. Cynthia Heil, from MOTE Marine Aquarium, discussed her research on red tides, which are now referred to as Harmful Algal Blooms or HABs.
A total of 63 students graduated with Honors Program Distinction in spring 2019.