Saint Martin's College class exploring the biology of Costa Rica

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Lacey - A group of six students and a professor from Saint Martin’s College are in the midst of a field biology project in Costa Rica. The project, a year in the planning, is taking them to several sites in the country to conduct research and learn more about Costa Rica’s diverse biological resources and efforts to conserve them.

The group, which will study primarily through Costa Rica’s Monteverde Institute, arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, June 17 and will return July 8. Prior to leaving, they established a website, where they are uploading field notes, photographs and video as technical resources allow. The web site also includes a discussion board, enabling them to share what they’re learning with fellow students, family and friends.

The group began its tour by studying Costa Rica’s history and biodiversity at the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad. The Instituto is a non-government organization that is cataloguing all living species of plant and animal life in the country to gain knowledge necessary to help preserve their rich diversity.

The group also will make field visits to the Sarapiqui region, where they will learn more about the impact of hydroelectric projects on the Sarapiqui River; the La Selva biological Station managed by the Organization of Tropical Studies; the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve; Finca La Bella, a cooperative farm, where they will learn about economically and environmentally sustainable farm production; the San Gerardo biological station where they will learn more about Atlantic slope rainforests and the Arenal volcano; and two national parks. Their studies will include data collection at several natural sites, interpretive hikes, visits to wildlife refuges and endangered species conservation centers, and lectures on subjects ranging from reforestation and Costa Rican history to the social costs of conservation.

Leading the field study is assistant professor of biology Alfredo Gomez-Beloz, an ethnobotonist with an expertise in the area of native plants and their uses. He also has an expertise in complementary and alternative medicine.

Students taking the field course are:
- Amanda Albert, Olympia, a freshman majoring in psychology.
- Angela Darling, Tacoma, a senior majoring in biology.
- Elissa “E.J.” Johnson, Lacey, a senior majoring in biology/pre-med.
- Nicole Oberg, Renton, a May biology graduate who will begin work on her doctor of physical therapy degree this fall.
- Charles “Chas” Leyster, Lacey, a senior majoring in biology/pre-med and psychology.
- Tyler Tebay, Pasco, a senior majoring in biology/pre-med.

Website support for the group is being provided by Saint Martin’s librarian Scot Harrison. To view the group’s activities online, go to

For more information:
Alfredo Gomez-Beloz
Assistant professor, biology;

Deanna Partlow
Office of communication