Expedition: Amazon

Radford University students took skills from the classroom into the Peruvian Amazon on the 2015 RARE expedition, based at the Las Piedras Biodiversity Station.

The trip was under the guidance of Assistant Professors of Biology Jason Davis and Joy Caughron in conjunction with Tamandua Expeditions, which focuses on biodiversity research, conservation and responsible volunteer/adventure travel.

The RARE team was:

  • Jessi Basham of Woodbridge
  • Cassie Bonavita of Yorktown 
  • Skyler Carrol of Roanoke 
  • Will Dowd of Smithfield 
  • Steve Gallas of Williamsburg 
  • Emily Guise of Mineral Wells, Texas 
  • Sara Hebert of Powhatan 
  • Diego Kendall of Fairfax 
  • Michelle Maurer of Fairfax 
  • Hanna Mitchell of Vienna 
  • Josh Oliver of Rocky Mount 
  • Fallon Parker of Dandridge, Tennessee

The RARE team represented many of Radford University's ambitious researchers. Two McGlothlin Travel Grant recipients, three Scholar-Citizen Initiative Highlanders-In-Action, two Biology Research Award winners and the winner of the Ruth Brecker Painter Award for Biology participated in the expedition.

"The expedition will be a catalyst for each of the students to take it to the next level," said Davis. "They can accomplish scientific goals with new discoveries in an off-the-map, poorly-studied and threatened environment. They will experience a one-of-a-kind, eye-opening personal opportunity. I think it is inevitable we will come back with new information and a deeper level of science."

The team returned June 7. They traveled by jungle road and river to reach the station's location deep in the lowland tropical rainforest at the base of the Andean range, one of the most biologically diverse regions on earth. They will visited and volunteered at the Tambopata Animal Rehabilitation Station and were challenged to a friendly soccer match by residents of the nearby town of Lucerna, according to Davis.

The team was equipped with field and laboratory equipment, such as wireless microscope cameras, solar power generators, sat-fi Internet connections, genetic sampling and preservation systems, infra-red trail cameras, GoPro cameras, forestry, soil and water testing gear and an abundance of curiosity.

Jun 1, 2015