Tyler Center for Global Studies Opens a World of Discovery for LSU Students

December 01, 2023

A group of Coastal Environmental Science and biology students stand on a bridge with their professors

– Photo courtesy of Dan Holstein

BATON ROUGE - An international research trip can be the experience of a lifetime for an undergraduate student. Time spent studying and researching abroad gives students a new perspective on their discipline and the world around them. However, the cost of participation can create a barrier for some students.

Thanks to the generous support of the Tyler Center for Global Studies, five LSU students participated in a study abroad trip to the renowned Galapagos Islands last summer. These students join a national network of Tyler Fellows who are passionate about the pursuit of knowledge

“It made me want to take advantage of more research opportunities so that I can learn more about my passions and interests while in college.

Emma Miranda, Coastal Environmental Science

and discovery on a global scale.

“This was an incredible opportunity to spend three weeks in one of the world’s most astonishing living laboratories,” said Dan Holstein, an assistant professor in the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences. Holstein was one of the trip leaders. “In this short time, students often solidify their interest in ecological or environmental research, become exposed to techniques and skills in field ecology, and discover a passion for asking questions about the natural world.”

The reflections of the 2023 Tyler Fellows, given upon their return, show that students finished their time abroad having gained a more global understanding of ecology and culture and new insights about themselves.

Emma Miranda, a Tyler Fellow and Coastal Environmental Science major, said the trip pushed her in ways she didn’t expect. “I found I had a fascination for birds during our finch research experience, making me open to the possibility of further experiences with bird research when I return to LSU.”

She also said her experiences taught her the value of seizing opportunities as they arise. “It made me want to take advantage of more research opportunities so that I can learn more about my passions and interests while in college.”

Coastal Environmental Science students take notes as an instructor points to a tortoise shell

Students on the trip studied the island's biogeography, marine ecology and conservation.

– Photo courtesy of Dan Holstein

Tyler Fellow Owen Dasher, also a Coastal Environmental Science major, noted his weeks in the Galapagos helped him build skills he would need to succeed in his future career goals. “The skills and lessons learned in the Galapagos [will be] very useful to me. This study abroad provided me with an excellent opportunity to deepen both my research and communications skills in a way that regular in-class experiences could not.”

Ashley Dufour, a biology major, said that her time in the Galapagos gave her a much deeper understanding of what it meant to be an ecologist. “Being able to take blood samples, measure beaks, weigh the birds, and tag them for further research allowed me to better understand the responsibilities of field ecologists. By going through the physical research, I was able to mentally make connections on why the birds had different features and how these features can affect the surrounding environment.”

Tyler Fellow Sarah Saxon, a biology major, found the trip as a whole to be a life-changing experience. “…there was something new to learn every step of the way…The thing I took most to heart on this island was the importance of keeping traditions and history alive and relevant.”

This trip is one example of the opportunities that await students in the LSU College of the Coast & Environment, and of the difference a donor can make in the life of a student.