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Alumni Testimonials


"The partnership between UMSL & MOBOT was the reason why I decided to fly all the way from Brazil to Saint Louis for Graduate School. The excellence in research encountered in both Institutions, combined with the fabulous botanical resources found at the Garden, and amazing graduate level courses found at UMSL, make the UMSL-MOBOT Program an ideal place for Graduate Studies in ecology, evolution and systematics."

Dr. Lúcia Lohmann (PhD 2003) Professor Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil; President, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation 

goerck I left Brazil to attend the graduate program at UMSL in 1992, right after the Harris Center was created. (At the time it was known as the International Center for Tropical Ecology.) It was a very stimulating environment with students from all over the world. We could share our experiences, challenges, and successes during our learning process, always with excellent support from our teachers and mentors.

Although most of us were unsure as to how our careers would develop, we all felt the sense of responsibility to make a difference in our countries of origin. Thus, after completing both, an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. with emphasis in Ecology, I immediately returned to Brazil.  Here I started a program for BirdLife International to work on environmental conservation.  The program evolved into the Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil (SAVE Brasil), a very active independent NGO, for which I am still the Director-President.

Through the dedication of a small team of biologists and environmentalists, we worked with the government in the creation of protected areas that add up to more than 60,000 hectares in some of the most important sites for bird and biodiversity conservation.  These areas, along with additional species-specific projects, contribute to the conservation of 600 bird species, 40 of which considered threatened with extinction.

We recognize that there is still much to be done but, we are certain that, if we had not been active at the right time, some of the most precious areas for conservation would have disappeared along with the rich diversity in plants and animals they house.

Jaqueline Goerck (Ph.D. 1999) Birdlife/SAVE Brasil, Executive Director of SAVE Brasil.

 rueda“UMSL gave me the opportunity to get in touch with professors that were working in tropical countries.  This allowed me to learn aspects of tropical biology that I could apply at home. At UMSL, I had the opportunity to be involved in the OTS courses where I met professors and students from other universities. I also had the opportunity to teach in the undergraduate school, where I learned teaching techniques, and more about the North American culture. I had the chance to meet students from different countries of Latin America.”
Ricardo Rueda (Ph.D. 1993) Director of the Herbarium, Botanical Garden, and ViceRector of International Relations, Universidad Nacional de Nicaragua-Leon


“The ICTE (now the Harris Center) allowed me to complete my PhD research in a timely fashion while supporting opportunities for me to work in the field and  develop contacts with outside  research organizations like  the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. These experiences opened doors for my post graduate work in Washington DC where I later became involved in science policy.  Now I regularly weigh in on federal policy decisions regarding the management of threatened and endangered species including working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service as well as members of Congress."

Silvia Fallon (PhD 2003) Director, Wildlife Conservation Projects, Natural Resources Defense Council


“Due to the help of the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center I was able to complete a study abroad program in Costa Rica through the Organization for Tropical Studies. During my participation in this class I explored tropical rainforest, mangrove, wetlands, paramo, cloud forests, and botanical gardens as  well as grew professionally. Due to the help received from the Harris Center I was able to receive employment  at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, and currently at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle performing captive husbandry, fieldwork, and reintroduction of the critically endangered Oregon Silverspot Butterfly and the Partula Snail.”

Michael Cash, B.S. Biology, UMSL, June 2011

jeffries“My prior engineering experience plus masters degrees from UMSL and SIUE have served me well in my roles at the Corps of Engineers. Everything we do at the Corps touches the environment, and an understanding and appreciation for ecology has been beneficial to my career. My time spent at UMSL's EES program were some of the best times of my life, spent studying and researching the endlessly fascinating life on our planet.  Completing and defending a master's thesis helped take my critical thinking, writing, and communications skills to the next level, and was well worth the time and effort required.”
June Jeffries (MS 2005) US Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District; currently Chief, Programs Branch, responsible for coordinating and submitting District Civil Works Program annual budget submission, defense, and execution of plans for flood risk management, navigation, and ecosystem restoration.