The Directed Research season in Australia has come to a close. Questions have been formed; field work has been completed; drafts have been edited; long hours of work and writing have been spent; and finally there is a stack of reports adding to the intensely planned research of the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies faculty and community of researchers around us.

The relatively small group of students of the fall (“dry”) 2015 semester have produced a range of research projects of remarkable quality. A small group joined our Centre Director, Amanda Freeman, to continue research she has been leading for years on the Tooth-billed Bowerbird. Important questions on courtship behaviour, food resources, and habitat adaptation in relation to changing climactic factors were all addressed for the Bowerbird. An in-depth survey of the local tree kangaroo habitat was explored by a crew of students supervised by both our Natural Resources Management professor, Catherine Pohlman, and Rainforest Ecology professor, Sigrid Heise-Pavlov. The final four students broke ground on the supply and demand questions of indigenous tourism industry under the guidance of Socioeconomics professor, Justus Kithiia.

Through this process of making connections with fellow community researchers, scholars, and business owners; developing the long-term strategic research plan that drives our research topics and goals; and allocating time and resources towards individual projects each semester, there is one constant: our dedicated inquisitive students. They pour their hours and minds into this process semester after semester, pushing the data and knowledge on all the listed topics further.

As my year as the Student Affairs Manager at the Centre comes to a close, with this semester I am reminded for the fourth time that commitment of our students is unique. Drawn by the School’s focus on providing students with applicable research opportunities that directly inform the community needs, our students apply their efforts to step into the role of environmental stewards.

So with less than 36 hours left in the program our students will be connecting with our wider research associates once more at our community night. They will all share their research posters and several keynote speakers will share their presentations. With their new knowledge, understanding, and contacts with the Atherton Tablelands, they will all continue to spread their research to their home universities back home in the U.S.

→ Tropical Rainforest Studies Semester Program in Australia