Isabella Parrillo

DANTA Study Abroad: Methods in Primate Behavior and Conservation
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Isabella Parrillo

Liberal Arts Major: Psychology
Minor: Biology
Hometown: State College, Pennsylvania
Experience Time: Summer 2022

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

I traveled to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica where I spent 10 days at the Piro research station with Osa Conservation. I learned about and practiced methods such as sexing primates, using camera traps, estimating population density, and habitat measurement in the rainforest. I also participated in lectures and article discussions regarding primate behavior, primate taxonomy, conservation methods, and observational methods. The primates we studied in the Osa were spider monkeys, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and white-faced capuchins. During my stay I was also able to participate in sea turtle egg rescue/relocation to protect turtles from predation. Traveling to and from the Osa, I visited a zoo focused on wild animal rehabilitation, observed dolphins in the Golfo Dulce, and toured a sustainable chocolate plantation in Puerto Jimenez.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This study abroad experience provided me with a field research experience, adding to my research skills. I increased my knowledge base regarding primates and conservation. Furthermore, I participated in a hands-on learning experience I would be unable to be a part of on campus.

"This study abroad experience provided me with a field research experience, adding to my research skills."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

Gaining this field experience in Costa Rica reinforced my career goals in the sense that it confirmed that I want to work in the field. Previously I had only guessed at what I wanted to pursue in the future, and now I have more certainty that I want to pursue a career in the realm of primates and conservation efforts. In addition, this experience adds to my resume which can help me get an internship working with animals in the future. Many applications in the animal behavior field require some animal experience, and studying abroad with DANTA has opened doors for me.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

The College of Liberal Arts has helped me succeed in this study abroad experience by providing enrichment funding which enabled me to be able to travel to Costa Rica, for which I am immensely grateful. Without the enrichment funds I received, it would have been significantly more difficult for me to reach my goal to study abroad.

For more information on study abroad experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.


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