How time flies! It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since the start of the Directed Research (DR) at The Center for Rainforest Studies (CRS). Students have been grouped according to DR projects and friends who happen to be in different research groups rarely see each other anymore. We began by refreshing students on the details of the CRS 5-Year Research Plan as it relates to the DR courses, then each faculty member introduced his/her DR project for the semester. We also had a discussion to explore some of the ethical dilemmas in conducting research and examined procedures and approaches that are employed to overcome these problems.

This semester, there is an interesting mix of research projects which students have been able to choose from. These include the ecology of plants in primary rainforest; secondary succession on the Atherton Tablelands; the habitat use and behavior of arboreal mammals; understanding visitors’ perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes towards the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; and seed dispersal in “Kickstart” pasture conversion plots.

One DR group, which affectionately refers to itself as ‘The Justus League,” has straddled the length and breadth of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA) conducting face-to-face interviews with visitors to this world-class natural refuge. This research is informed by the need to avail relevant information, which if implemented, could ensure the appropriate management of visitor sites so that services, facilities and recreational experiences are compatible with present opportunities, meet expectations, and continue to attract more tourists.

The group has visited the Daintree, Mission Beach, Kuranda, Mossman and Malanda Falls. I can tell from their demeanour that so far, they have enjoyed every moment of it. Well, not that they’ve had it easy; they’ve had to contend with rejections here and there! But they seem to have taken it in stride; it hasn’t in the least dampened their spirit. And this is what I love about working with students groups like “The Justus League” with real “GUTS” (read: Genuine Urge To Succeed).

Good luck with your DR projects, SFS students worldwide!