Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Research feature

Research with a side of adventure

Tropical biology takes students way out into the field

howler monkey

A howler monkey

The screams began before sunrise. And once they started, it was impossible to sleep. In the early morning darkness, the sounds suggested awful things: large beasts, such as dragons, trumpeting in anger. Or perhaps the sounds of war and death.

“The way I describe it is that it sounded like something being killed, or animals killing each other, like in a slow, painful way,” said Samantha Ferguson ’14. “It definitely sounded like death.”

The source of the sound: a troop of aptly named howler monkeys that had taken up residence in a stand of trees sheltering the river station dormitory at La Selva Biological Station. “The first time you hear that sound, every hair on your body stands up,” said Professor of Biology Scott Shumway, who has been visiting the tropics for more than 20 years.

“It’s not like your mother waking you up,” said Francine Camacho ’14. “It’s this screeching and then it hits you: ‘Wow, I’m really sleeping in the rainforest.’” [Read more...]

Native characters

The reef and rainforest ecosystems that students visit in the “Tropical Field Biology” course are incredibly diverse. Professor Scott Shumway offered field notes on a few of the species that students often focus on during the trip:

[Read more...]

A Belizean day in the life

The course is designed to make the most of every minute on the two-week field trip. Professor Scott Shumway offers a snapshot of the typical day in the field:

A typical day began with 7 a.m. breakfast, perhaps preceded by a moment of solitude walking the shoreline or out on the dock. After breakfast, we would gather in the classroom for instructions. Most mornings we boarded a boat for a 20-minute ride to one of the snorkel sites.

Afternoons were spent studying the patch reefs near the island. Between lunch and the afternoon snorkel, Professor Shawn McCafferty would lecture on coral identification or fish biology. After dinner the students would reassemble in the classroom for an overview of the day’s activities, a showing of the photos that Professor McCafferty took during the day, and planning the events of the next day. The final two days were devoted to the student patch reef projects. [Read more...]

Wheaton means business

Wheaton has established a new major in business and management that draws upon the breadth and depth of the college’s liberal arts curriculum and its commitment to experiential learning to prepare students as future organizational leaders.

Business MajorThe new major, which the college’s faculty approved on March 1, will also draw practical strength from affiliations with a number of business and nonprofit organizations that currently offer internships to Wheaton students. Learning through internship experiences, which has been integral to a Wheaton education for nearly three decades, will be a required part of the business and management program.

“This is a comprehensive and novel approach to the study of business and management that takes advantage of the intellectual strength and range of the liberal arts,” said Provost Linda Eisenmann, who served with seven faculty members on the ad hoc committee that designed the new major.

“The study of business may not be considered a traditional discipline within the liberal arts, but the design of this program fits Wheaton perfectly. We have a long history of innovation in academic programs, and our emphasis on cross-disciplinary study provides a foundation that will help us to offer an outstanding course of study in business.” [Read more...]