Photo: Dr. Eloy Rodriguez, James Perkins Professor of Environmental Studies "christening" the first issue
Emanations from the Rainforest, December 1998
This is the first issue of Emanations from the Rainforest, an annual forum for undergraduate research in biology. This compendium of research articles and abstracts results primarily from research projects developed and conducted through 1997 by undergraduates at the Yutajé research site, found in the northern region of the Amazonas State, Venezuela.
The purpose of the Amazonas Yutajé biochemical research station is to explore the rich floral and faunal diversity of this previoulsly unstudied tract of rainforest. Furthermore, researchers screen samples in an effort to identify new potential biomedicines from natural products. The ongoing studies may lead to the discovery of important new drugs for a variety of epidemics. More importantly, the research efforts at the station have implications in the spheres of biodiversity conservation and indigenous rights to the region.
In addition to the collaborative work, individuals develop and implement their own research projects with the assistance and input of many faculty and instructors who participate in the program. The faculty represent individuals from eclectic fields of study, which allow students to explore a diverse array of research topics from mycology to anthropology to soil chemistry. The diversity of backgrounds (both academic and ethnic), provides for a unique experience in which students are exposed to a variety of personal and scientific perspectives throughout the duration of the program.
Through partipating in the program, students are exposed to the neotropical rainforest environment and to field and laboratory research. The program provides a special opportunity for undergraduates to apply theoretical knowledge developed in the classroom. Students cultivate their analytical skills, while learning to appreciate the complexities of the rainforest and its conservation.
As students go on to pursue careers in research or medicine, we hope the experiences and new perspectives from this program will have profound effects on their aspirations. Indeed, many former participants have undergone personal transformations, characterized by heightened awareness of environmental and human rights issues, that have served to reaffirm their previous career choices or lead them in new directions.
The Yutajé research site is made possible through the generous financial support of the Fogarty-Minority International Research Training Program (MIRT) of the NIH, Cornell University, and the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas (IVIC). The program is conducted through a collaboration among Cornell University, IVIC, Fundacion Terramar, Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), and Universidad Simon Bolivar (USB). The program also receives assistance from faculty affiliated with other research institutions from both the U. S. and other nations. The undergraduate fellows include students primarily from Cornell University and Venezuelan institutions, who are studying biology, chemistry, ecology, biochemistry, medical anthropology and a variety of related disciplines.
We hope you enjoy the research projects and supplementary articles contained within this first issue of Emanations. If you have further questions or comments, please contact Dr. Eloy Rodriguez, or check-out the MIRT at Cornell Web-site.
Gustavo Azenha '98
To obtain a copy of Emanations from the Rainforest (Emanations Vol. 1, No. 1)...CLICK HERE.