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Inspiring experience of a Costa Rican student in REU 2016  

Georgia Hernández, a junior Costa Rican Biology student from the Biological Sciences Department of the Universidad Nacional (UNA) participated in the 2016 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at La Selva, which consists on completing an independent research project in the field, from the project planning stage through to symposium presentation and potential publication.

Georgia’s research project consisted on developing a shade house experiment to study light acclimation of photosynthesis for seedlings and saplings of several rainforest tree species. Her study compared photosynthetic rates in 2016 with those found during a similar experiment in 1983 that used the same set of species.  

“REU 2016 has been the best experience I have had so far, because we lived in a hotspot for scientists and researchers in one of the best biological stations in the Neotropics”, said Georgia, who is the first Costa Rican REU’s participant since 2012. 

“I liked the workshops and talks. Once, we received a lecture from a researcher who introduced a new ecological model we had just studied in class. His talk focused on the research he had made at La Selva. As a Costa Rican, it is inspiring to learn that awesome scientists made significant discoveries and formulated new theories in my tiny tropical country. It motivates me to find new answers in my own land, but also to expand my dreams to places farther away, wherever I desire, as one researcher advised me,” Hernández declared.

She is still writing and making the final comparisons with the 35-year-old previous data. “Our results,” Georgia explained, “will have important implications for the integrity and resilience of the tropical rain forests by providing a better understanding of individual responses of key species to increases in greenhouse effect gases”. 

Additionally, Georgia finished her internship with a manuscript draft entitled “Long-term photosynthetic acclimation of tropical tree seedlings to gradual increase of atmospheric CO2”, along with Roberto Cordero, her mentor at UNA and in REU, and Ned Fetcher, from Wilkes University in United States, as coauthors. Dr. Fetcher provided the 1983 gas exchange data.

“The REU changed my life, and as a Costa Rican having the opportunity to participate in this program was priceless. It is an experience you cannot just tell, you have to be there to breathe science, make new crazy awesome friends, and be part of the scientific world for a couple of months,” concluded Georgia.

Do not miss this opportunity to join the next REU summer program in Costa Rica; the application deadline is January 31, 2017 .
Last Updated ( 01/12/17 )
 
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