Rain, Rain, Go Away...

by |November 29, 2011

Sundrying Highland coffee in Tarrazu, Costa Rica - Photo by Tarrazu

A 2003 graduate of CERC’s Executive Education Program in Conservation and Sustainability and doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island, S. Amanda Caudill writes for NY Times Scientist at Work, where she is assessing biodiversity on coffee farms in Costa Rica.

S. Amanda Caudill’s research site in The Turrialba area is a rewarding but challenging place to work. Unlike other places in Costa Rica, it does not have a dry season; it is rainy all the time. When a torrential downpour strikes, shelter is nowhere to be found, leaving the clothes’ and skin of the entire team soaked. S. Amanda Caudill also notes that the wet, muddy ground and steep terrain are difficult to navigate, but create plenty of opportunity for adventure and humor. Conducting research in the field is not easy, but hands-on-science is necessary to answer important questions in conservation and sustainability.

S. Amanda Caudill explains that the constant rainfall allows the coffee plants to grow year round, drawing coffee pickers to the farms to harvest the coffee. Interactions with the poor, migrant workers are fascinating, as many of them find S. Amanda Caudill’s work “curious,” and “crazy.” Her research equipment (e.g. bags, ropes, traps, etc.) is sometimes stolen by the workers, but she notes the importance of sharing knowledge with and engaging the local community to form mutual trust.

To read more about S. Amanda Caudill’s amazing research adventures, visit her blog at Scientist at Work. For more information on CERC’s Executive Education Program in Conservation and Environmental Sustainability, visit our website or contact Desmond Beirne at cerc@columbia.edu or 212-854-0149.

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