Eleven students and two professors from the University of Akron will research geckos and fish in Tahiti for two weeks starting in late May in a study abroad version of the university’s vertebrate zoology course.
Successfully putting together a study abroad in such an unusual and remote (more than 2,600 miles from either Hawaii or New Zealand) is the result of many factors. The faculty, Dr. Richard Londraville and Dr. Peter Niewiarowski have taught a vertebrate zoology course abroad many times, and not only in French Polynesia, but also in San Salvador and the Florida Keys.
Londraville said that he originated the idea of studying fish and lizards in the tropics, then chose Moorea (a small island in Tahiti) because of the “excellent condition of the reefs and the affordability of being able to stay in a French field station [Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement (CRIOBE)] that is part of the Sorbonne [French university].” He is a molecular/cell physiologist and ichthyologist (fish scientist), and Niewiarowski is an evolutionary biologist/ecologist who studies reptiles, amphibians and biomimicry (designing and making human materials, structures and systems based on nature).
Heather N. Pollock, Akron’s study abroad coordinator and a professor of classics, said,“It’s a beautiful blend of classroom and applied learning. This is the model that we are trying to develop here at UA.”