Scientists who have a thirst for knowledge and a better understanding of biodiversity are doing studies all over the world. Biodiversity is the variability of living organisms on earth, including the variability within and between species and the ecosystem. Here on campus, there is a small and unknown but flourishing group of people who form the Center for the Study of Biodiversity.
The president has not recognized the center but it is making headway in research of various topics dealing with biodiversity. The center’s current director is Paula Schiffman, a biology professor.
“The purpose of the center is to promote the study of biodiversity as being a strength,” Schiffman said. “It makes us unique. We have made a real emphasis in hiring professors who know about biodiversity. It makes us real special.”
The center’s goal is to not only promote biodiversity but also to aid research in ecology and evolution of biodiversity.
“The center is a contortion of faculty members and graduate students that are interested in issues pertaining to biodiversity, that are fairly broadly defined,” said Robert Espinoza, an assistant professor of biology.
The center mainly consists of faculty because they are more knowledgeable about the center compared to students. The center is more administrative.
“The center consists of various faculty and staff and we have an expertise in different areas,” said Cheryl C. Hogue, biology professor. “The research interests of the faculty are very diverse.”
Graduate students are also involved in the center’s studies. Students are currently doing research on various subjects, such as algae species in the Moorea Coral Reef and bobcats. The center has also encouraged some students to further pursue careers in biodiversity and other fields of science.
“We’ve been successful but we think it could be more successful,” Schiffman said. “A large number of our students (have) gone onto jobs where they study various aspects of biodiversity and graduate school.”
The Center was created to encourage students to do research and again recognition to accept donations, which can further fund research, but money has been scarce. The president does not yet recognize the center, which causes a lack of money flow to fund the center’s research.
“The work that we have been able to do can be done without the center,” said Paul Wilson, a biology professor. “We can do the work as well without the center. I really want the work to be funded and if the center can help do that then that would be great.”
Money and recognition are just a few problems as the people involved with the center are planning out a course of action to make them occur. The center has to promote themselves to get the community involved to gain recognition by the president and to raise the money needed to fund research.
Despite the setbacks, the center has had some successes in research. Students are becoming more involved in biodiversity research. Also, biodiversity research has been recognized and published in scholarly and scientific journals.
“Another success is that we have published a lot of original research on the topics of biodiversity,” Schiffman said. “In the time period between 2001 and 2005, we have published 83 scientific papers. We think that means as scientists we are successful.”