The Silliman University Biology Department recently hosted students from four universities in the US for an immersive experience in conservation research and management in the Philippines.
Under the Philippines International Research Experience for Students (Ph-IRES) project, SU hosted five undergraduate students from the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, the University of Maine, and Barry Universit.
The students conducted research on: influences of fishing pressure on the life history of a marine fish, genetic barcoding of freshwater and estuarine fish biodiversity, cryptic speciation in the blue swimming crab Portunus pelagicus, and developing genetic markers for the critically-endangered Philippine spotted deer Rusa alfredi.
The research mentors from Silliman included Dr. Nadia Palomar-Abesamis, Dr. Robert Guino-o II, Prof. Michael Lawton Alcala, and Prof. Persie Sienes.
US-based scientists Dr. David Gauthier from Old Dominion University, and Dr. Christopher Bird and Kevin Labrador from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi provided technical assistance and capacity-building activities to both the US and Filipino students.
The Ph-IRES project, now in its second year of implementation, is a collaborative project funded by the US National Science Foundation among Silliman, Old Dominion, and Texas A&M.
It aims to develop scientific linkages among the institutions, and allow US undergraduate students to conduct independent research with Filipino mentors, and interact with Filipino undergraduate biology students. It also emphasizes collaboration among cultures, and the development of world-class skills, particularly in the fields of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial conservation research and management in the Philippines.
Students from the US participate in the project during their summer term. After the students conduct their research over the summer, they present their research in a national conference, work on manuscripts for publication, and/or use their research for their undergraduate thesis.
In the Ph-IRES project last year, Dr. Rene Abesamis and Abner Bucol from the SU Angelo King Center for Research & Environmental Management served as research mentors. (SU OIP with reports from the SU Biology department)
Photo Caption: A US student learns molecular techniques from Prof. Persie Sienes.