UBD-UNC partnership through iCUBE

UBD students learn as interns at the Galapagos Science Center

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The Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) signed between UBD and several institutions - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) through iCUBE, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) created internship opportunities for top and high-performing UBD students. UBD links with GSC actually began with the participation of two Biology students in a 6-week summer programme in the Galapagos in June 2012. Ms Hazimah Haji Mohd Din and Ms Wardah Haji Tuah were the first UBD Biology students to ever set foot in the Galapagos and Ecuador! The programme was based at GSC and ran by the academics from UNC and USFQ’s Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS). The students and other UNC students took two modules - Biology of Marine animals and Humans and their Microbiological Impact with the main emphasis on the study of the social and ecological vulnerability of these volcanic islands.

Last year, Ms Abigail Jan Kai Shing and Ms Siti Hadijah Haji Haji, two Biology major undergraduates became student interns at the GSC for 12 weeks and their main roles were to assist in a number of research projects conducted on the islands. They were involved in projects on Galapagos sea lions, Galapagos petrel, invasive rodents, sharks, marine fishes and Galapagos soils under the supervision of researchers and graduate students of UBD, UNC and USFQ. From June 2014, two students (Ms Siti Hamizah Haji Zinal Abadin and Hajah Nurul Izzati Haji Abd Hamid) are in the Galapagos Island for a 12-week internship. They are currently working with renowned scientists from UNC: Dr Jaime Chaves on Connectivity patterns of marine species and Professor Gregory Lewbart on baseline health assessment of Galapagos green and hawksbill turtles. They are also expected to assist UBD researchers in preparing DNA and soil samples, which will then be exported to Brunei for further testing and analysis. Our Biology students’ participation definitely highlights UBD involvement and made valuable contribution in biodiversity studies in the Galapagos Islands.

Students are really grateful to have been given the golden opportunity to go all the way to the Galapagos Island, Ecuador for their Discovery Year! The students value the opportunities of conversing and networking with well-known scientists and interns from all over the world at the GSC and participating in lectures, labs and fieldworks with UNC students in a 6-week summer programme. More students from FOS and other UBD faculties are expected to participate in this once in a life time opportunity to experience the Galapagos in the years to come.