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BU Students feature in The Guardian

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Ecuador Students excel in Ecuador

Dr Anita Diaz is currently overseeing a team of Bournemouth University students who've been making excellent progress in their studies in Equador. One of the results of this has been a recent article in The Guardian, highlighting their conservation activities. Dr Diaz commented "I'm really impressed with the students currently on the Royal Geographical Society project in Ecuador. They are making a superb effort to rise to the challenge of working in new and tricky environments and have been succeeding in collecting data that will make an important contribution to both the conservation and the scientific understanding of cloud forests."

"They have also been keen to share time with local communities, to work, play and talk together and hopefully see the world of conservation from their perspective. I think that Bournemouth University could not wish for better ambassadors. The students are: Michelle Brown (ECB1), Anna Hoynalanmaa (ECB1), Jonathan Jessett (ECB2), Alexander Lovegrove (ECB1), Roy Rainbow(ECB1), Rachel Pearce (EP1) and Michaela Wilkinson (ECB1)."

One of the team, student Michelle Brown, also featured heavily in The Guardian article, which was published on Friday 17th of August. The extract, courtesy of the paper, has been added below.

Michelle Brown, who is just about to start her second year on the ecology and wildlife conservation course at Bournemouth University, also wanted to take a very practical route to "doing something". She had always loved animals and wildlife as a child: "My parents say I was always coming in with collections of worms or whatever I was interested in that day."

She left school at 16, and started work as a dispatcher for ambulance control. "But it got to the point where, in order to go forwards, I either had to start training to be a control manager or a paramedic - and I just wasn't sure that was what I wanted." She left the ambulance service and joined a couple of volunteer projects, going to Madagascar and Tanzania, where she became fascinated with reptiles - and realised that this was what she wanted to do with her life.

"I didn't have any science A-levels - in fact, I didn't have any A-levels at all - it was 10 years since I'd left school. So it was very daunting. But I applied as a mature student, and the teachers gave me loads of support. I had extra tutorials, and extra chemistry sessions, and it's been fine."

She has loved every minute of the course, which includes work on ecosystem conservation, biodiversity and a lot of fieldwork. "We do an annual trip to the Pyrennees," Anita Diaz, head of the course, explains. "That's really fascinating for the students, partly because it's very beautiful there, but also because right in the middle of all this natural beauty is a horrible great ski course. The students have very different reactions to it - anger, frustration. But it helps them see that they need to focus these reactions so that this can't keep on happening."

This extract is © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007