Cultural Immersion

Spring 2012 I studied abroad at the Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS), a remote campus of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) located on the island of San Cristobal. I studied evolution, ecology and conservation. We spent one month in Quito and three months on San Cristobal. The Galapagos Islands is one of the world’s most beautiful and biologically diverse island locations. It’s here that I got hands-on experience studying topics such as Biology, Ecology, Evolution, Marine Ecology, and Sociology.

The Galapagos Islands and Quito was my classroom. I witness the famous land iguanas and giant tortoises as I study the evolution of these unique species. I was able to visit indigenous and traditional Andean communities to better understand the relationship between humans and their environment. I went diving into the Pacific to get close to the hammer head sharks and other marine life.

I examined first-hand how Ecuador’s diverse ecosystems have been shaped by evolutionary processes and the role that distinct societies have played in the protection or transformation of these environments. Field study excursions brought me to bio-diverse jungles, picturesque coastal regions, and to one of the world’s tallest volcanoes. 

Amazon Rainforest 

Tiputini Biodiversity Station
Explored the largest and most bio-diverse rainforest in the world.

Ecuador’s Coastal Regions

Machalilla National Park - Manab í Province
Visited a number of coastal ecosystems and studied the animals that live within them.



Maquipucuna Cloud Forest

Pichincha Province 
Discovered the beauty of this unique ecosystem.


Paluguillo Paramo Preserve 

Paluguillo Paramo Preserve
Explored the diverse flora and fauna of an alpine forest.


Galapagos Islands 

Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve
Expanded my knowledge on evolution and marine ecology.