Student Explorers

Luis Arias, Biology

RARE gave me the chance to learn in a way I never would have from sitting in a classroom. I was able to conduct a research experiment in the most biodiverse region of the world.”

Luis Arias

RARE Participant 2016

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Class of 2018, Bachelor of Science in biology, minor in chemistry
Fairfax, Virginia

In May 2016, Arias participated in the Radford Amazonian Research Expedition (RARE). Arias was drawn to the RARE trip for the opportunity to conduct hands-on research and work on an experiment from conception to presentation. Arias was inspired by a lesson from Dr. Jason Davis, coordinator of the RARE trip and an associate professor of biology, who told Arias, “Science is not something that is done, it’s a process. By bringing students on the trip, they can spread awareness to preserve this beautiful place.”

Arias’ research project focused on how deforestation affects dung beetles. When Arias returned from the trip, he was inspired to increase awareness of the importance of preserving the Amazon for future generations.

“RARE gave me a new perspective. I now view myself as a global citizen and not just a Radford citizen,” explained Arias. “This opportunity gave me the chance to learn in a way I never would have from sitting in a classroom. I was able to conduct a research experiment in the most biodiverse region of the world.”

After witnessing extensive deforestation in the Amazon, the trip motivated Arias to become involved in conservation efforts at home.

“RARE may have ended but the memories will always stay. I am currently working on recycling projects at the university and spreading awareness for the program. I hope I can bring awareness to the issue and encourage others that we don’t have to be part of the problem, but instead be a part of the solution," he said.

After graduation, Arias plans to apply to medical school and dreams of becoming a pediatrician. He wants to put into practice the experiences he has had and the lessons he has learned at Radford University.

“I have always been interested in human anatomy and physiology, and I feel the greatest joy after helping someone. I hope to help children domestically and on a global scale,” said Arias.

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Nicole Diambra, Dance & Recreation, Parks and Tourism

The RARE trip is such a unique opportunity to engage in the areas of study I love."

Nicole Diambra

RARE Participant 2017

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Class of 2018, Bachelor of Arts in dance and recreation, parks and tourism, and special events concentration
Knoxville, Tennessee

Nicole Diambra’s double major in dance and recreation, parks and tourism allows her to explore both of her passions: dance and travel. “Both of my majors speak to who I am; I have been dancing since I was four years old and have also always loved to travel,” said Diambra. “I wanted to be in the recreation, parks and tourism field so that I could help other people experience travel in a positive and exciting way.”

As a part of RARE in 2017, Diambra was able to combine her passions when she conducted research on the relationships between dance, culture and tourism. Although in the past the RARE trip was primarily focused on biological research, the trip has expanded to include students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. “The RARE trip is such a unique opportunity to engage in the areas of study I love,” explained Diambra.

During RARE, Diambra interviewed local communities about how they have seen their culture preserved through dance and how tourism has impacted local dance preservation. Throughout the trip Diambra was able to better understand the broad spectrum of dance as well as become exposed to various styles and purposes of dance.

"I find new perspectives and ideas fascinating and the RARE trip challenged me in that way," explained Diambra.

Diambra chronicled her research with a GoPro that she purchased through multiple scholarships she received and she ultimately created an original choreography about her experiences for her research capstone project.

In addition to her research, Diambra was impacted by the overall RARE experience. "I was able to experience nature in an immersive and thrilling environment, engage with a new culture, eat scrumptious food, walk endless miles and gain a forever changed life perspective," said Diambra.

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Becca Cox, Nursing

I always wanted to study abroad, but I didn't want to go on a cookie-cutter trip. I loved that I got to make this trip my own by having control of what I wanted to research."

Becca Cox

RARE Participant 2016

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Class of 2018, Bachelor of Science in nursing

Becca Cox participated in RARE in 2016 and it was also her first time traveling outside of the country. As a nursing student, Cox was interested in the RARE trip because, “I always wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t want to go on a cookie-cutter trip. I loved that I got to make this trip my own by having control of what I wanted to research.”

Cox researched Fish Handler’s Disease, a disease caused by bacteria on fish that affects fishermen and can lead to skin lesions, joint stiffness, lymph node swelling, pain and other symptoms. Her research is especially important in the Amazon since this disease can cause harm to local fishermen. After the trip, Cox continued her research in the New River Valley, comparing her findings in the Amazon with bacteria present on fish in the New River.

Cox believes that her involvement with RARE will make her a strong candidate for a future Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.