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Bahamas Research Experience

Four Decades of Student-Faculty Study

The rocky terrain and thorny vegetation where some of the world’s most critically endangered iguanas roam can be daunting to navigate, even for the most seasoned scientific researchers.

Just try catching one without scraping your knee, Earlham College’s John Iverson says.

He would know. For the last 38 years, he has been studying West Indian Rock Iguanas with students on the remote islands of The Bahamas every May in what is the longest running, continuous study of iguanas in the world. And with their help, the reptiles are slowly fighting off extinction.

 
 
About John Iverson

Iverson’s tenure at Earlham pre-dates even his research in The Bahamas. Since arriving in 1978, he has become a leading national voice on reptile ecology (he spends equally as much time researching turtles in Nebraska, Florida and Indiana), and has co-authored 49 peer-reviewed publications involving 49 Earlham students. His work has been supported by more than $1 million in grants by the National Science Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, International Iguana Foundation, and Earlham-sponsored professional development funds, among other sources.

“I love when my students go on and get Ph.D.s, but I get the same satisfaction working with students who don’t pursue a career in biology but still have a great time on the research,” he says. “The most extreme reward I get is for those folks who make a difference in their own right independent of me.”

Johni
How to Catch an Iguana 101

Earlhamites who have worked with Iverson become experts in catching and processing the elusive creatures, either by net, noose, trap or even by hand. Past research teams have even made how-to videos now available on YouTube.

EPIC Advantage

The Bahamas experience is just one of the experiences students will have as part of the EPIC Advantage.

Earlham is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States to offer funded internships and research experiences to all students. These opportunities take place during the summer, prior to a student's junior or senior year, and funding may include travel expenses.

The program is a key component of the Earlham Plan for Integrative Collaboration (EPIC) and is a permanent feature of the Earlham Experience.

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