It’s been a few weeks now since our team returned from Panama. In the weeks since we returned stateside, spent time in the lab processing our data, making maps, and preparing our final papers and presentations.
Below are a few highlights of the program and some of our data and finalized maps.
“No mining in Santa Fe: It only leads to death and destruction. We want to be a paradise, not a valley of desolation!” Painted warning outside the Hector Gallego Foundation.
Group picture in Bermejo.
Learning about how the rain gauges are read and maintained.
Reading GPS points on Espave.
Water quality test vials for Espave.
Poison arrow frog (with eggs on its back) outside of restaurant.
Digitized elevation model comparison. The background is 30 meter Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data over the Espave and Bermejo regions. The smaller image is the higher resolution DEM we created by digitizing an IGN contour map of the area. Each model has its pros and cons, so we used both to draw our watersheds.
One of our final maps of the Bermejo area. The IGN topographic map is the background. Red points are GPS locations recorded by our team in the field. The watershed was drawn using the DEMs pictured above.
This will be my last post. I have to admit that while the blog was difficult to keep up with in during our stay in Santa Fe, it has been a great way for me to record my experience.
Overall, My experience in the Panama Research Abroad program was fantastic. CATHALAC and its contacts in the Santa Fe area provided a nonstop educational journey. The combination of hiking and conducting field research with interviewing community members and learning about Panamanian culture was physically and mentally demanding, but this only added to the overall experience.
I think the most important lesson the program taught me was the need for conducting field research in a practical manner. My classes at UAH have provided me with an excellent background in the sciences. However, our team was forced to make (reasonable) assumptions and modify operating procedures for the sake of practicality in the field. The program helped to ground us as scientists in the “real world.” The members of the water boards in Santa Fe were not as concerned with every minute chemical property of their drinking water, but whether it was safe to drink and whether there would be enough for everyone in the community.