The semester is almost over now, and as always around this time, students are about to turn in their Directed Research papers. This semester we are working on four different projects:

• Assessment of community capitals around protected areas in the Central Volcanic Mountain Range
• Wildlife disturbance by roads in Carara National Park
• Assessment of the impacts of hummingbird feeders in Monteverde
• Quantification of ecosystem services provided by secondary forests around Atenas

The Directed Research course is one of the highlights of each semester for both students and faculty. Students have the opportunity to gather first-hand experience, throughout the entire process of scientific research, from designing a project to analyzing and communicating the results to peers. Most importantly, we spend a week out in the field, to collect data and get familiar with the study system, but also with the issues that arise between society and the environment. Our results are intended to help protected area managers, local governments, and other stakeholders involved in implementing sustainable development strategies.

Of course we emphasize a solid background in data management and statistical techniques. But it is the integration of intensive field work with analyzing your own data, in combination with the exposure to real world environmental issues that motivate students to identify themselves with their research projects and work hard to make it a success for each one of them and everyone else who is involved.