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  • Locations: Panama, Panama
  • Program Terms: Winter Intersession
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Minimum GPA Required: 2.5 Housing Options: Dorm, Hotel, Thathed Hut
Program Term: Winter Language of Instruction: English
Program Provider: RWU Areas of Study: Biology, Marine Biology
Program Location: Panama Global Engagement Opportunities: Community Engagement, Research
Scholarship Eligibility: Short Term Only
Program Description:

Isla Nurdup (Panama) Banner
Program Description | Eligibility | Academic Details | Housing
Program Dates | Financial Details | More Information


Program Description

Neotropical Marine Biology is a field intensive course designed around the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama as a significant geological event that shaped the evolution of countless groups of organisms. Students will be exposed to the tremendous biodiversity harbored in Panamanian waters while studying the evolutionary processes that have shaped Panamanian environments over the past three million years. The course will offer hands-on opportunities to study important concepts of biology in a tropical setting, and will provide meaningful contrast to the environments of the North Atlantic. Sites at which the course will be held include well-equipped laboratories that offer excellent access to the field, as well as excellent support resources such as microscopes, computing facilities, and small boats and remote, local communities proximal to pristine field sites. The course has three underlying goals:

  • To investigate fundamental processes of evolution in a geographic location in which the results of evolution are readily observed and easily recognized by the remarkable differences in environments and organisms between Pacific and Caribbean Panama 
  • To expose students to the diversity of tropical marine and terrestrial environments and their constituent organisms 
  • To understand the capacity for human alteration of natural habitats by observation of the Panama Canal, a monument not only to mankind’s engineering ingenuity, but to his often careless regard for the environmental impacts of human mediated transport of living organisms. 

The development of a course in tropical evolutionary biology focusing on a natural land bridge between two continents embodies the RWU motto, Learning to bridge the world. Students will travel to well known historic sites, such as the Panama Canal in Panama City, as well as less well known sites of scientific interest. Along the way they will experience, first hand, the culture of urban and rural Panama and become exposed to a slice of biodiversity unmatched in New England.

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Open to All Majors

  • Junior Status and/or Permission of Instructor
  • Good academic and judicial standing
*A required swim test will be administered in the university pool (a continuous 200 meter swim, and a 10-minute water tread)

Academic Details

BIO 305:  Neotropical Marine Biology - (4 credits)


Student accommodations will consist of hotels, thatched huts and dorm style buildings (Liquid Lab).Inside thatch huts, Isla Digir

Program Dates

January 10 -January 20th, 2019 (tentative)

Financial Details

Program Cost

Financial Aid and Scholarships

RWU students applying to RWU-sponsored short term study abroad programs are not eligible for financial aid, however, they may apply to one or both of the scholarships listed below.  Students apply for the scholarship(s) at the same time they submit their application for a short-term program abroad. In order to be considered for the Global Engagement Scholarship, they must submit their application by stated program application deadline.

The Bridging the World Scholarship:
Scholarship awards based on academic merit only
Scholarships awards based on financial need and academic merit 

The Global Engagement Scholarship:
Scholarship awards based on financial need only (limited funds available)

More Information

  Professor Brian Wysor, Professor of Biology
  Office:  Marine and Natural Sciences Building

  Professor David Taylor, Professor of Biology
  Office:  Marine and Natural Sciences Building

Health & Safety Abroad

Students should review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for complete information regarding the health concerns and vaccine recommendations specific to Panama. Students should also review the U.S. State Department’s consular information website for complete information on safety and security.

All information subject to change - Roger Williams University reserves the right to cancel any faculty-led program offered during the academic year for insufficient enrollment or for any other reason. These reasons may include safety and security concerns at the program location. Should it prove necessary to do so, the School will promptly notify all registrants.

Click here for a printable brochure of the information found on this page. 

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.