Back in San Marcos, Costa Rica, working with a team of Earthwatch Institute volunteers this week to collect more data on pollination in coffee farms here in the region. The volunteers this week are all from the global firm Ernst & Young, coming from Peru, Israel, France, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. They have been spending the mornings with me collecting data in the field (several hopping out of bed at 5am and coming along for the morning run through town!) and the afternoons helping out with the local coffee cooperative, CoopeTarrazú, with fiscal management issues. Our current fieldwork is focusing on quantifying the frequency of pollinator visits to coffee plants - these data will be incorporated into our ongoing exploration of the role that forest habitat and farmer practices plays in bolstering coffee yields as well as biological diversity in the region. Weather has been quite cooperative, and spirits have been high in the field - and everyone is looking forward to the Friday night barbecue at the home of a local coffee farmer!
I'm the Director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) at California State University, Monterey Bay. Prior to that, I was at the University of Washington, Tacoma campus for 16 years, where I was a Professor in the Environmental Science program and also served as the Director of the Office of International Programs as well as Director of Undergraduate Education for a few years. Trained as an ecologist, I'm interested in various aspects of global conservation and agricultural production - my field research often takes me and my students to interesting places to explore various aspects of these two issues.