The Tropical Resources Institute at Yale

The Tropical Resources Institute at Yale

From Sarah:

Following Nemo’s frigid, uninvited arrival in New Haven (Nemo apparently didn’t see Punxsutawney Phil’s memo), I want to share warm thoughts with you about the Tropical Resources Institute (TRI). TRI is an interdisciplinary program within Yale F&ES. It aims to help students with funding and research tools for managing and conserving tropical resources. TRI provides research fellowships for students and assists students with research design, proposal development and field methods for projects in the tropics. It also helps connect students with local, in-country institutions. For example, students have teamed with organizations in Panama like PRORENA (Proyecto de Reforestacion con Especies Nativas) and Agua Salad Project. These organizations, along with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, in turn link students with local entities like the Panama Canal Authority, Panama’s National Environmental Authority, and the University of Panama, as well as local NGOs and private companies. With PRORENA, students work toward restoring diverse native forest cover and understanding tropical forestry management and conservation; the Agua Salad Project, seeks to quantify ecosystem-based services from the tropical forests of the Panama Canal Watershed. Both projects are far more complex than I am able to describe here, but I encourage you to check them out here and here.

I want to share more information with you about great fellowship opportunities with TRI. The heart of the program is found in these diverse research opportunities in the tropics. TRI administers two fellowships: the TRI Endowment Fellowship and the Andrew Sabin International Environmental Fellowship. Simply put, the TRI Endowment Fellowship provides funding for students to conduct research in the tropics. Approximately 25-30 students travel – to five regions across the globe – taking advantage of the fellowship each summer. Last summer alone, students finishing their first academic year traveled to places like Indonesia, Peru, India, and El Salvador.

Second-year MEM student Aparna Mani received partial funding from TRI for her research trip to Vanuatu last summer. Aparna researched the interface of food security, gender, biodiversity, and food policy in the South Pacific. Drawing from social science themes she learned from classes with Michael Dove, Aparna transferred classroom learning to her on-site experience. She conducted dozens of interviews in villages on the island of Vanuatu to understand the relationships between gender, biodiversity, access to natural resources, and decision-making. Aparna told me that conducting her own research, instead of spending the summer in an internship, was invaluable, deeply gratifying, and eye opening.

The Sabin Fellowship is available for tuition and funding for students from developing countries. It is not mutually exclusive from the TRI Fellowship I discussed earlier. Students who are qualified are welcomed to apply for both fellowships: both are available for research in the tropics!

If you are interested in becoming involved, I invite you to check out the TRI website. You’ll be able to peruse the website and see the remarkable TRI and Sabin Fellows and their research topics. Go ahead and shoot any of the recent Fellows an email. I’m sure that they would love to share their research projects with you and offer tips on applying for these great research fellowships. You can also see the TRI Bulletin, which discusses the recent projects that students have completed. Stay up-to-date with events at TRI here.

Well, that concludes the TRI blog. As snow keeps falling and sidewalks stay icy, I invite you to explore the tropics virtually, via TRI. It has proven a great resource for research opportunities in the tropics!