International students receive awards to study at UBC Okanagan

Carolina Miño handles a baby Roseate Spoonbill while doing fieldwork in Brazil (left). Yoamel Milian Garcia (right) takes samples from crocodiles (right).

Two international students have received $10,000 each to study with ecological and conservation geneticist Michael Russello at UBC Okanagan through the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP), administered by the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

Carolina Miño, who is from Argentina, arrived this month for a six-month study term. Miño is working with Russello to address research questions around the breeding habits of the Roseate Spoonbill and Great Egret - an aquatic species of bird - in Brazilian natural breeding colonies.

"UBC Okanagan is a well-known institution because of it excellence in education and research, and having the opportunity to spend time here is wonderful for me," says Miño, who has been living in Brazil for the past six years. "Not only will I benefit from the expertise of a notable researcher, but I will also have the opportunity to learn from a different culture, different people, and share experiences with them."

Yoamel Milian Garcia of Cuba will arrive in February, and plans to work with Russello on topics related to population genetics, molecular systematics, and advance his knowledge of molecular biology techniques focused on ancient DNA.

"The first contact I had with UBC Okanagan was through Michael Russello, after he published some outstanding papers related to population genetics," says Garcia. "After reading his papers, I contacted him to establish a cooperation project between UBC Okanagan and the University of Havana, where I work."

Garcia and Russello partnered to develop a joint project looking at the genetic characterization of fossil records of the Crocodylus genus (crocodiles) in Cuba.

"Russello's lab at UBC Okanagan has all the necessary conditions to develop my research and establish methodology for working with fossil records," says Garcia.

The goal of ELAP is to support the development of human capital and the next generation of leaders in the Americas while strengthening links between post-secondary institutions in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. ELAP scholarships are for student exchanges and research at the college, undergraduate and graduate levels. Eligible themes of study or research are in disciplines that promote good governance, prosperity, peace and security, and economic development.

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