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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Coto Brus, Costa Rica; Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica; San Jose, Costa Rica; Sarapiqui, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Description:

Program Overview

Students at research station

The USFSM Biology Program provides an exciting research opportunity in Costa Rica! Students will be able to pursue research in a variety of tropical ecosystems. Immerse yourself in the rainforest to experience first-hand the concepts of biodiversity, ecology, and conservation while conducting field research at the research stations of the Organization of Tropical Studies. Students will perform research utilizing the extensive trails at La Selva in a lowland tropical rainforest habitat and then travel south to Las Cruces to experience a pre-montane habitat.

Students will explore the rainforests of Costa Rica to develop questions, hypotheses, and pilot studies on topics of interest to them. Past projects examined topics that included bioluminescent fungi, caterpillar food choices, rainforest snail diversity, microhabitats of fungi, fluorescent lichens and ethnobotany.

Field workshops on butterfly and bat research will be held at the Tirimbina Preserve and there will be tours at a wildlife rescue ranch and a coffee plantation. Talks will be presented on the traditional preparation of chocolate and the use of plants for medicinal purposes.

Students also will visit the Boruca indigenous community where they participate in obtaining dyes from plants and see the artisan crafts of weaving and the carving of elaborate masks utilized in traditional festivals.

The course has stateside and in-country components and is conducted during Session B: June 26th -August 4th. The component during which the group will be in Costa Rica is from June 27th to July 11th. 



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Research Group

This course will take place at two of the three field stations operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica. La Selva is located in the Caribbean lowlands in northern Costa Rica and consists of tropical wet forests averaging 4 meters of rainfall annually. Four major tropical life zones are represented with more than 5000 species of vascular plants, over 400 species of resident and migratory birds, thousands of arthropods and the large predators include jaguars and pumas. The Las Cruces Biological Field Station is located in southern Costa Rica. Las Cruces has 326 hectares with ~200 hectares as primary forest. Classified as a tropical premontane wet forest it receives an average of 40 cm of rainfall/year. Located 1,200 m above sea level it boasts pleasant temperatures from 70-80oF during the day and low 60’s at night. Las Cruces has more than 1000 genera in over 200 plant families that can be seen along the trails. This station is also home to the Robert and Catherine Wilson Botanical Garden which showcases an international collection of plants that was established in 1962.

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Host Institution

Student at lab

The USFSM Research Experience Abroad is utilizing the biological research stations of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) in Costa Rica. The La Selva Biological Station is located in the northern lowlands and the Las Cruces Biological Station is in southern Costa Rica near the Panamanian border. The OTS stations have housing and dining facilities, classrooms, laboratory facilities, libraries, herbariums to facilitate field research projects. The laboratories are outfitted with basic equipment and supplies for processing and evaluating specimens collected and internet access is available in the classrooms, labs and housing. Students will perform research utilizing the extensive and well-marked trails at La Selva in a tropical rainforest habitat and then travel south to Las Cruces to experience a pre-montane habitat.

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Academic Program and Course Information

Download the required course approval form hereCAF Field Research in Costa Rica 201705

BSC4933 - Selected Topics in Biology: Field Research Experience Abroad - Costa Rica

This course provides a research experience abroad for students to gain an understanding of the processes involved in successful field research and the professional methods of scientific communication.


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Dr. Edie Banner

Dr. Banner is an Instructor of Organic Chemistry in the Biology program and the Teaching Laboratories Coordinator.  She earned Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Chemistry at the University of New Orleans and completed her doctorate in Organic Chemistry at UNO with a focus on the synthesis of toxins found in poison dart frogs.  Her love for teaching spans 12 years with a wide range of chemistry and biology courses and she has explored Costa Rica extensively. Her interdisciplinary background has the right combination of chemistry and biology for USFSM’s developing Bachelor of Science in Biology program to provide new interdisciplinary courses and opportunities to study abroad. 

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Program Costs

Total program cost: $4,262.00 + tuition

  • International Airfare and all in-country transportation
  • All room and board at research stations and hotels
  • Guided nature hikes at the research stations
  • Manuel Antonio National Park hike
  • Toucan Wildlife Rescue Ranch tour
  • Medicinal Plants Talk
  • Traditional crafts demonstrations with the Boruca
  • Caterpillar, Butterfly and Bat programs at the Tirimbina Preserve
  • Chocolate Plantation tour
  • Coffee Plantation tour
  • Gold Museum tour
  • Emergency Health and Evacuation Insurance
  • Luggage fees
  • Laundry fees

NOT included in program cost:
  • Passport processing fees
  • Personal spending
  • Tuition for 3 credit hours


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Living Arrangements

Organization for Tropical Studies is renowned for its holdings and facilities for conducting high level research in diverse tropical ecosystems.The group will be staying at their stations which have housing and dining facilities, classrooms, laboratory facilities, libraries, herbariums, and access to computers to facilitate the research projects.


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Who Can Participate?

Students should have a satisfactory 2.5 GPA.

Enrollment is limited to USFSM students and will be opened to other USF students the week before the final deadline.


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How and When to Pay

Please click here for further details regarding payment.

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Getting There

Airfare is included in the program cost so that the group can travel together.


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Medical Insurance and Travel Documentation

USF provides program participants with sickness/accident and emergency medical evacuation insurance valid for the dates of the program. Those who will travel independently, either in advance of the program or after the program ends, must ensure that they have insurance coverage valid outside the U.S.

Please click here for more detailed information.

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Safety & Health

Participant's safety and well-being are paramount to USF. Please click here for detailed country-specific safety and health information given in our Country Study Report. Make sure to read up on country-specific information on the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

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Financial Aid and Scholarship Funding

Many funding opportunities are available to USF students who are planning to study abroad. Please see our funding page for further details.

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Special Terms

Students should carefully review the Education Abroad Participant Contract, included in the Education Abroad application process. It describes students' responsibilities with regard to participation, and includes information on insurance, and cancellation and refund policies. Students will be asked to electronically sign this document. To view this document before applying, please click here.

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Contacts for More Information

Faculty Contact:

Edie J. Banner, Ph.D.
Chemistry Instructor and Teaching Labs Coordinator
University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
Office: USFSM B327
Telephone: (941) 359-4682

Questions regarding study abroad, program enrollment, registration and payment of fees:

Amela Malkic, Director for Global Engagement

USF Sarasota-Manatee
Office: B222
Telephone: 941-359-4314

Nancy Di Bella, Education Abroad Advisor
Education Abroad Office, CGS 101
University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave.
Tampa, Florida 33620-5550
Telephone: (813) 974-1969


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This program is currently not accepting applications.