May 2012

Farewell to a Friend

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) and Duke University are deeply saddened by the loss of a student in our Global Health Undergraduate Semester Abroad program in Costa Rica. Our dear friend, Ravi Thackurdeen, drowned in Costa Rica's southern Pacific coast on Sunday, April 29th. We appreciate the many offers of support and expressions of affection that we have received during these difficult days and also thank all of those who have taken Ravi into their hearts and prayers.

"The entire OTS community is very upset and our thoughts and prayers are with the Thackurdeen family, his classmates, professors, friends, and with the OTS/Duke and Swarthmore communities," said Elizabeth C. Losos, President and CEO, Organization for Tropical Studies.

Those who had the fortune to meet Ravi know that he was an extraordinary young man and an outstanding student. In the words of his classmates, "his memory will always be with us and will drive us to give our best in everything, as he always did."
Click here to read the full article and testimonials...

OTSnewsOTS News
2013 T-Shirt Contest Winner


The votes are in and a clear winner of the 2013 Membership t-shirt contest has been chosen!


As always, the OTS Membership t-shirt is not available for purchase, but is given to individuals who support OTS programs with a gift of $50 or more. We expect to have these shirts in stock within the next few weeks. 


Click here to renew your membership today! 

OutreachOutreach and Events
Alumni Mixers at Professional Meetings

Join us for an informal OTS mixer during an upcoming professional meeting and help celebrate our upcoming 50th Anniversary.  If you are an alumnus or have visited one of our research stations in Costa Rica, we welcome your stories!  If you would like to learn more about who we are and what we do, join us as well.  It's been 50 years with many great memories and the future is bright with possibilities!


World Congress of Herpetology 
Thursday,  August 9
5:00 to 6:30 pm
Mahoney's Pub
Vancouver, British Columbia 

North American Ornithological Conference
Wednesday, August 15 

5:30 to 7:00 pm

Mahoney's Pub 
Vancouver, British Columbia

Ecological Society of America
Tuesday, August 7
Time/location: TBD
Portland, Oregon
Upcoming Travel -- New Orleans

Save the date! This fall, OTS will be in New Orleans. Join us on October 19-21 for a wonderful weekend exploring the botanical side of the Big Easy! We promise a few evening and late night treats too.  


Email for updates on our plans and pricing information as it becomes available. OTS members will receive discounts. 

StationUpdatesStation Updates
 The Robert and Catherine Wilson Botanical Garden Celebrates 50th Anniversary     



The 50th Anniversary of the Robert and Catherine Wilson Botanical Garden was celebrated jointly with the 5th Annual Festival Eco-Cultural over a two-day free public extravaganza May 4 and 5, 2012.   


Both days offered talks on the History of the Garden, Sustainable Agro-ecology, Native Ornamental Plants, Exotic Plants in the Botanical Garden and Amistad International Park; guided tours of the grounds, shade houses and the Canopy Tower; theatrical and musical performances, and arts and crafts workshops for adults and children.



An invitation-only gala event was held for the many long-term supporters of the Wilson Botanical Garden later that the evening. More than 100 guests attended and held a toast for the visionary Robert Wilson, who 50 years ago decided to start a small botanical garden seemingly in the farthest corner of Costa Rica. Live music and dancing continued until the early hours and the event was heralded as a grand success by all.    


Mesoamerican Reptile Conservation Workshop
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its continuous work to learn more about vertebrates worldwide, is promoting the evaluation of the Central American reptile population.

To address this goal, the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), the Biology department and the Clodomiro Picado Institute of the Universidad de Costa Rica, NatureServe, Fundación Pro Zoológicos and CBSG Mesoamérica are organized the Mesoamerican Reptile Conservation Workshop at the Palo Verde biological station, between the 5th and 10th of May 2012. This event was financed by the National Science Foundation and OTS as well as having the full support and collaboration of the Species Survival Commission (IUCN) and their Regional Office. The event was attended by more than 35 experts in Mesoamerican reptiles, whose experience and input will be of invaluable importance for the conservation of this species in our region.  
"Save the Wetlands" Meeting at Palo Verde

The mayor and key representatives of the Bagaces Municipality, Municipality of Carrillo, and personnel of the Area de Conservación Arenal Tempisque, held a meeting on May 12 at the Palo Verde Biological Station. This special meeting was to discuss about the campaign "Save the Wetlands" of Palo Verde, organized by Canal 7-Teletica and SINAC. The aim of the campaign is to generate greater cooperation from the municipalities and private organizations. During this campaign, OTS will provide scientific and technical support to the activities helping the improvement and management of the wetlands at Palo Verde National Park.  

externalField Notes

NAPIRE 2012 Campus Mentors visit OTS Stations


The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experience (NAPIRE) is a National Science Foundation Louise Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (NSF-LSAMP) sponsored undergraduate research experience (REU) with a unique focus. The experience is designed to promote science as a career for the most underrepresented minorities in science: Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Native Alaskans. The success of this endeavor relies on building communication between the students, Research Mentors and On-Campus Mentors, a process that was stimulated during the NAPIRE 2012 Mentor Workshop. The workshop brought 13 LSAMP program directors and Campus Mentors from their home institutions to the OTS stations.  


During the eight week NAPIRE 2012 course, participants will be working and learning at two OTS Stations: La Selva Biological Station and Las Cruces Biological Station. The visit by the NAPIRE 2012 Campus Mentors provided an opportunity for them to experience the climate, living quarters, food, education and laboratory facilities that are available at both stations, and thus be more prepared to advise the students from their institutions as to what they should expect. At each of the stations workshop participants attended orientation lectures and guided nature walks around the grounds. On the way back to San Jose, they visited the Brunka community of Boruca, a community that looks forward to a visit from the NAPIRE students each year.  


Participants thoroughly enjoyed themselves and went back home comfortable with sending their students to the NAPIRE 2012 summer research experience.


NAPIRE 2012 workshop participants: from left: Kay Porter, Wendy Townsend, Casey Chong, Amy Cooke, Galen Porter (back) , Holo Holopai, Stacy Mortensen, Ashley Begaye, Steve Smith (back) , Sue Lentz (front) Jacquelyn Bolman, Brian Compton , Chris Lobban, seated left front Sharon Zeigler Chong with Skylar Chong on her lap.
NAPIRE 2012 Workshop visits Brunka women and their family at their community of Boruca, Punta Arenas, Costa Rica.






In This Issue:
Farewell to a Friend
2013 T-Shirt Contest Winner
Alumni Mixers
New Orleans
Las Cruces 50th Anniversary
Reptile Conservation
Save the Wetlands
NAPIRE 2012 Campus Mentors

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