Name: Alexander Schneider
Hometown: Peoria, IL
Graduation year: 2016
Major(s)/Minor(s) Evolution, Ecology and Behavioral Biology
Where are you studying abroad/why did you choose this country/program?
I am studying abroad in the Galapagos Islands. To quote the famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.’ Charles Darwin discovered and confirmed evolutionary processes by studying adaptive radiation throughout the Galapagos archipelago. Without the Galapagos, the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory would not have come to fruition, leaving biology as a science in obscurity. I chose this program to experience the islands that are responsible for so much of the progress in all fields of biology. I chose this program to be enlightened by experiencing the Galapagos Islands so that I can cherish and protect the beauty that is essential to understand our world.
What has been your proudest/most exciting moment abroad?
The most exciting moment thus far was the final night of our stay at the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve. We were returning from the night hike, our group of seven and our knowledgeable naturalist guide Mayer. We had failed to spot any tapir or big cat, only to have seen a handful of spiders and frogs. Mayer halted us and asked that we turn off our flashlights. We did and a thick darkness enveloped us. I looked down at my feet to see small flecks of yellow-green. I looked around us to see the forest floor was covered in a vibrant bioluminescent glow in all directions. I felt as though I were in a fairy tale, transported to a magical world filled with the unknown and the arcane. When we turned our lights back on, I realized I was in such a place, the Amazon Rainforest.
What will you bring home as a souvenir?
My souvenirs will be my collection of audio recorded while in the Amazon and throughout my travels on the Galapagos Islands. It wasn't until recently that I discovered soundscape ecology and became interested in understanding an ecosystem through audio. The audio that I capture will serve as a memento of my time abroad, and will preserve the beauty of the nature well after my experiences abroad have ended.