ESS study abroad program is in its 2nd summer in Panama
Panama City, Panama -- Eight students from UAHuntsville and three from Canada and Texas are spending part of their summer studying Spanish, local culture and issues in environmental sustainability in Panama.
Hosted by CATHALAC (the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean), the program is organized in conjunction with UAH's Atmospheric Science Department and the university's International Programs and Services Office (IPSO).
The students are working on three research projects during the summer. One group of students is investigating climate change and water availability on tropical islands.
They will analyze the long-term water supply on Taboga Island (not far from Panama City), looking at both the increased demand for water and environmental stress caused by climate change.
Another group is studying extreme weather events and vulnerable communities in Eastern Panama. They are analyzing the vulnerability of rural indigenous and non-indigenous communities to extreme weather events in the upper Bayano watershed.
The third group is doing research on the effects of climate change on farm production in Central Panama. These students will analyze environmental variables, such as daily temperature range and solar radiation, that might affect sugar production at the Santa Rosa sugar factory.
The Taboga and Santa Rosa projects are follow-up work to research done by UAHuntsville students during the summer of 2010.
The UAHuntsville students include six undergraduate earth system science (ESS) majors, one biology major and one ESS graduate student. Three of the students were also part of the 2010 Panama study abroad program. Those students are either continuing research projects they started last summer or are delving into new topics.
The group also includes two "visiting" students from the University of British Columbia and one from the University of Texas.
Students will learn basic knowledge and skills on the science of climate change, analyze historical trends in climatic variability and human vulnerability, and examine national and international policy debates on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The course is designed from a Latin American perspective, exploring questions of technology transfer, distribution of risks and benefits, and social marginality.
"The participants were given an excellent introduction to the cultural and environmental diversity of Panama in the program's first week," said David Cook, an IPSO program assistant. "After a two-day orientation in beautiful El Valle, the participants returned to Panama City to explore CATHALAC's home in the City of Knowledge, and also the historical Casco Viejo section of Panama City. Each research group has made site visits and is formulating its research plans."
Students are receiving intensive Spanish classes and are living with host families in Panama City. The home stay experience helps students develop language skills through cultural immersion.
The students taking part in the 2011 study abroad program in Panama are:
• Samual Ayers, a junior ESS major at UAH;
• Brad Barrick, 25, a senior ESS major at UAH;
• Casey Calamio, 21, a junior ESS major at UAH;
• Melanie Gates, 23, a senior ESS major at UAH;
• Chris Jahnig, 21, a senior majoring in earth and environmental science at the University of British Columia;
• Tiffany Keeton, 24, a UAHuntsville ESS graduate student;
• Tara Martin, 21, a senior biology major at UAH;
• Nancy Pospelov, 42, a senior ESS major at UAH;
• Tiffany Webb, 20, a sophomore ESS major at UAH;
• Natasha Wood, 22, a senior majoring in international relations at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan; and
• Samantha Zabodyn, 20, a junior geography major at the University of Texas.