Will Dowd


Will was raised in Smithfield, Va. Always an independant spirit, Will received his GED at 15 with a special waiver to test from the school board. "I have had many different work and life experiences before coming to Radford University in 2012 to major in geospatial science, environmental concentration, after earning an associate degree in general education from VWCC," he recalls.

Currently Will is the resident caretaker at Radford University Selu Conservancy, a job that he is very passionate about. "I am the president of the Selu Garden and Service Club," he states. "The club’s mission is to raise student awareness and engagement at the conservancy through the running of a garden on the property as well as doing other service projects there. The produce grown in the Selu garden is donated to local food banks."  

Will is passionate about conservation in general, which is what attracted him to the RARE trip. "I feel that bringing awareness, as well as adding to a body of knowledge about the current situation in and around the Madre De Dios region of Peru, is critical and worthwhile work," he says.

Will adds, "I love my major and am continually fascinated by the fast pace at which the technology advances our ability to study the world around us."  Will also discovered a love for ceramic arts here at Radford University.  "I have taken Ceramics 1 and am currently enrolled in an independent study of ceramics," he recalls. "The dichotomy between geospatial science and ceramic arts is very refreshing to me. Something relatively brand new to humans and something completely timeless makes for good thinking."

The Radford experience has been extremely positive for Will. "In general, I think Radford University is a great school and I have had opportunity after opportunity offered me since coming here," he says. Some of the biggest opportunities Will has enjoyed are a 2013 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) grant, living and working at Selu, and the RARE trip.​

Will's Project:

The goal of my project will be to develop an ecological profile of certain medicinal plant species and to determine whether certain plants, trees, soil types or vegetative structures co-occur or can help predict the likelihood of occurrence for medicinal plants. The specific medicinal plant that I will be profiling will be determined once I am in Peru through discussions with our local guides and preliminary site surveys.