Genetics, Development and Cell Biology
Caribbean Marine Biology, Honduras
It is extremely fulfilling to see the excitement in the eyes of the students as they climb onboard the boat after a snorkel or scuba dive on the coral reefs. Students’ have often commented that this study abroad course was a “a life changing experience.
Don Sakaguchi, Morrill Professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, has been leading study abroad programs to Roatan and the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) off the coast of Honduras since 1998.
- Why do you lead programs?
- This biology course was created to provide students with an opportunity to learn about and experience firsthand a different country, culture and environment. This study abroad program provides a unique field marine biology experience. It’s exciting that so many ISU students have an interest in marine biology and preservation of this critical and essential ecosystem.
- What would you say to faculty that are considering leading a program?
- Seriously consider participating in and/or leading a program. It’s extremely rewarding though it is also very challenging to organize a program. Most programs are organized by co-instructors. Dr. Jeanne Serb and I have been co-organizing this program since 2014. However, faculty/staff need to remember that in addition to the “regular” course management issues, you have to think about recruiting students, interviewing students to select participants, travel logistics, and safety issues. Nevertheless, it is extremely fulfilling to see the excitement in the eyes of the students as they climb onboard the boat after a snorkel or scuba dive on the coral reefs. The CALS Study Abroad staff has been outstanding in assisting faculty with planning and logistics, they’re wonderful!
- What have you learned by leading programs?
- Each time I have taken students to Roatan I have experienced something new and exciting. I have learned a great deal about coral reef ecology, invasive species and marine conservation efforts. Since leading this program (starting in 1998) I have seen the impact of global climate change events and hurricanes and how they can affect the coral reefs.
- What has been most memorable about leading a program?
- It has been tremendously gratifying to see the excitement in the students’ after they’ve experienced a coral reef for the first time.
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- I enjoy traveling, scuba diving, relaxing and spending time with family and friends.
- Is there a place that you would like to lead a program, but haven’t?
- That’s a pretty long list - Palau, Fuji, Yap, Tahiti, Bonaire, etc….
- Why should students study abroad?
- It is critically important to gain an appreciation for and to experience other cultures. It is also very important for students to experience new and interesting environments and to learn how they might positively impact preservation of these ecosystems for future generations.
- How would you encourage students to study abroad?
- Students’ have often commented that this study abroad course was a “a life changing experience".