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tropical education: biology and geomorphology of tropical islands

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The Gump Research Station on the island of Moorea is more than a living laboratory for some of the world’s best scientists. It's also home to one of UC Berkeley’s most exotic courses for undergraduates, Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands, in which students learn field research methods and conduct their own projects.

What's it like?

"My semester on Moorea was one of the greatest experiences of my undergraduate career. Living in another culture was an eye-opener, and it has left me with an urge to continue such adventures. The Moorea class not only teaches students about the biology and geomorphology of tropical islands, the science of nature, and the Polynesian culture; it also teaches students the nature of science and scientific investigation."

– Stephen Hatosy '06, Molecular Environmental Biology

"Spending 10 weeks on an island with little to do aside from conducting research, we perfected the art of time-filling: some surfed, some played cards, and some took bi-weekly trips to the nearby Juice Factory for free samples of rum. But throwing ourselves into our projects provided the best way to stay busy and avoid island fever. I investigated the physiological effects of a parasitic vine (Cassytha filiformis) on one of its hosts (a shrub called Pemphis acidula that Tahitians call 'mikimiki')."

– Sara Lopus '05, Environmental Science

"The independence and diligence required to turn out a successful research project while in the most beautiful place in the world has definitely carried over to life after visiting Moorea. I feel more capable to tackle my classes and less stressed out about the minutia of everyday life. Living at the Gump station is calming and relaxing. I think I managed to bring this practicality and calm independence, though greatly diluted, back to Berkeley."

– Nicole Baltrushes '06, Integrative Biology


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