Community Service:
Working with and serving communities to benefit society, nature and science
  I am often asked how my doctoral research and certain other scientific endeavors benefit humanity.  It has become apparent to me that many people view science that is not directly relevant to the needs of society as pointless and more distressingly not worthy of government funding. It can be simply argued that science of this nature is like artwork - it enriches only those members of society capable of affording and understanding it. 

      Although public benefit is not a requirement for all of mans pursuits,  I do feel that these types of scientific endeavors do have both direct and indirect benefits to humanity.  In addition, I feel that it is the obligation of all scientists to go above and beyond the insulated academic environment to transmit their knowledge in a manner that can be understood by the general public.

       Bridging the gap between science and the public for for the purpose of biological conservation is more than just a moral obligation, it is a requirement.  Proper conservation has a positive impact on both ecosystems and society. Unfortunately, the societal benefits are not always transparent to the general public. Therefore, a strong public awareness is needed for any successful conservation project.

        The theoretical science that I conducted for my PhD dissertation had many indirect benefits on the community of Changuinola Arriba, our host village.  I wanted to highlight a few of these benefits here to give people a greater appreciation for the positive impact even theoretical science can have on society. These benefits included:

1) Each year we supplied the village children with school supplies such as backpacks, glue, pens, rulers, and notebooks -items that often put a large financial strain on the families.

2) We have on several occasions been able to pay for adequate treatments for several community members that were facing medical emergencies.

3) By employing the majority of the local villagers, we were able to demonstrate that there are potentially other, sustainable ways of making money outside of exploiting their natural resources.

4) We provided transportation in an area devoid of roads in difficult terrain for villagers to see distant relatives and to pick up supplies.

5) We were able to provide a means for certain village children to continue their education beyond grade school education mandated  by the government.

      Lastly, I wanted to say that  I am a strong advocate of educating and involving people in science and conservation at an early age.  I have had the pleasure of teaching people of all age groups and although challenging, I feel that educating children will have the largest impact on conservation initiatives.


Demonstration of field techniques to summer camp students.
Anatomy and Physiology lesson for summer camp students
Children of the Russian Orphanage where we spent several weeks a summer in 2009 and 2010
A few of the village children with
their new school supplies
One of the weekly lessons in the
village of Changuinola Arriba