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UPR is back in Panama reporting on USU plant research at a remote field station

UPR news director Sheri Quinn talked to Erin Lewis about her arrival to the tropical forest, and the conferencethis week celebrating the groundbreaking discoveries at Barro Colorado Island, referred to as BCI.

Lewis: "We're at Gamboa rainforest reserve. And it's right in the National Park. It's very beautiful. It's very green and lush. There's a lot of wildlife. There's agouti running around, we've seen several different frogs, and little rocket frogs that are really tiny, and some lizards, and all sorts of interesting insects. And I went on our balcony and just for like an hour, I was just listening and watching all the different birds. There's Tangiers and other really cool birds. That's been really fun to watch. We saw a bunch of leaf cutter ants on our walk yesterday, just making a path through the grass."

Quinn: "Can you tell us a little bit about this conference that you're attending and the anniversary this week?"

Lewis: "It's Barro Colorado island's 100 Year Celebration symposium. So it's very exciting. We were at breakfast this morning and dinner last night, and we're starting to hear everyone coming in, you can just hear people talking about cool science. And you can tell there is like a kind of a fun vibe in the air. And for the next three days, they're going to be doing all sorts of presentations on research, mostly that has been done at the island, and they're basically celebrating that research station. And I believe it's kind of like a past, present, and future of the station and research that had previously been done. And then finally, kind of the future and where the field station is going in the future, it's going to be very exciting."

Quinn: "We'll look forward to talking to you after the conference, and then you're going to BCI is that right?

Lewis: "So I'm very excited because I've never actually been to the island myself, I will be going with Elsa Jos, who has been working at the field station and on that island for most of her PhD. And we are going to be going out and she's going to be showing me some of her field sites, what it looks like out there. So, that should also be really, really exciting. And then we'll come back and have kind of this whole team meeting of this project."

Quinn: "That was Erin Lewis reporting from Gamboa, Panama. Watch for UPR's continuing coverage of this project on The Secret Beyond the Seed, a series investigating why there is such an amazing diversity of chemicals that have evolved in plants. It's funded by the National Science Foundation and made possible by the Beckman lab in the Utah State University Department of Biology."

Sheri's career in radio began at 7 years old in Los Angeles, California with a secret little radio tucked under her bed that she'd fall asleep with, while listening to The Dr. Demento Radio Show. She went on to produce the first science radio show in Utah in 1999 and has been reporting local, national and international stories ever since. After a stint as news director at KZYX on northern California's Lost Coast, she landed back at UPR in 2021.