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Cal U Joins Madagascar Research Consortium

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Posted on August 11, 2010

Cal U has joined an international community to develop a model for tropical research and training in Madagascar.

The Consortium for Research and Training in Madagascar (CRTM) focuses on Ranomafana National Park, located with the country's southeastern rainforest.  Made up of universities and conservation organizations, the consortium manages the Park's Centre ValBio Research Station.

The consortium's goal is to promote and to facilitate research, training and conservation in Madagascar. To accomplish this goal, its members work to bring together international and Malagasy institutions and scholars to increase both national and international interest, biological understanding and land management abilities within the region, as well as to advance the integration of modern scientific methods, technology and research in Madagascar.

"By joining this group, Cal U is making a commitment to these efforts and helping to internationalize educational opportunities for our students by creating study abroad, independent study and internship opportunities in Madagascar," said Dr. Summer Arrigo-Nelson, assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Founding consortium institutions are the University of Antananarivo and the University of Fianarantsoa in Madagascar; Stony Brook University in New York; and the University of Helsinki, Finland. Other members include the California Academy of Sciences, the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution.

To inaugurate Cal U's new membership in the consortium, Arrigo-Nelson and Dr. Mark Tebbitt, also from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, recently led eight Cal U students on a five-week, six-credit field school at the ValBio Research Station.

The first group to participate in this program, the students learned the methods and techniques of field biology and mapped the distribution of invasive species of animals and plants within a high-altitude region of the park.

The Cal U study abroad program is run in cooperation with the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE) at Stony Brook University.  Arrigo-Nelson and Tebbitt plan to offer this program to Cal U students every two years.