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  • Students at Mount St. Helens.

The World, Your Classroom

Learning in the Field

Conducting research doesn’t have to mean white coats and microscopes – at any given time, Boise State has faculty and students on research trips all over the globe. Each year, Boise State professors take students into the field to apply their learning to real-world issues, be it hiking into the crater of Mount St. Helens, tracking leopards in Mozambique, monitoring ice melt in Greenland, mapping kestrel migration across the Americas, or translating 400-year-old Spanish plays about female pirates.

Students gather with Brand at Mount St. Helens.

Inside the Crater of a Volcano 

Brittany Brand, an assistant professor in Boise State’s Department of Geosciences, took a team of 17 undergraduate and graduate students to Mount St. Helens, located 50 miles from Portland, Oregon. Mount St. Helens is best known for its 1980 eruption — the deadliest and most economically destructive eruption in the United States — that killed 57 people and destroyed 250 homes. But Brand and her team of students were not deterred. The group camped four nights and spent three 10-hour days in the field, hiking about 25 miles, including into the crater of the volcano. The team from Boise State also brought volcanology experts from across the globe to study with them on the dusty trails in the shadow of the volcano. 

Singing American Melodies Across Europe

This summer, about 30 Boise State choir students embarked on a 10-day performance and cultural tour of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.  The students, along with director of choral activities Michael Porter, performed American folk songs, jazz standards and classical works for cathedral audiences – all while soaking up Europe’s rich history. The group was even featured at The Last Post ceremony in Ypres, Belgium. The ceremony in Ypres commemorates the service of those who died in WWI and has occurred daily since 1928.
Choir kids in Belgium
Choir kids singing

Tracking Jungle Cats in Gorongosa

Easter points out a paw print

Easter points out a leopard print.

This spring, Boise State graduate biology student Tara Easter was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to continue her work studying the preservation of leopard populations in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. Last summer, she set up field cameras that detected the first leopard in the area in over 20 years.

“We were elated to confirm the presence of leopards – this is a species not yet detected inside the park’s borders since recovery efforts began following Mozambique’s civil war,” Easter said.

This discovery sparked her current research assessing what human and natural factors constrict or encourage leopard movement in the area – such as buildings, roads and different types of habitat.

Breathing Life into a Centuries-Old Pirate Story 

Mac Test, Department of English, Basque Block, Basque Center, Allison Corona photo.Edward “Mac” Test, an associate professor in the English department, is packing his bags and headed east to spend his summer digging through archives in Madrid, Spain.

Test is translating a nearly-400-year-old play, “Comedia Famosa De La Monja Alférez,” into English for the very first time. The play is based on the true story of a Basque woman named Catalina de Erauso, who escaped a nunnery at 18, cut off her hair, dressed as a man, and jumped aboard a ship bound for the new world. She rose to the rank of “alférez” (lieutenant), while living “the fantastic life of a conquistador, gambler and swashbuckler.”

Test’s project already has garnered international attention and ultimately will lead to performances of the play for the first time in America. The Boise State Department of Theatre Arts, UCLA and McMaster University in Toronto all have expressed interest in producing the performance.

In addition to these fascinating projects, Boise State has faculty and students embarking on a 1,500-mile snowmobile journey to study ice melt in Greenland; faculty launching a new climate change study by tracking the migration patterns of kestrels; and faculty and graduate students analyzing how local democracies in Brazil influence human development and social well-being, in order to better understand how democratic practices affect the quality of people’s lives. 

These are just a few of the exciting research opportunities under way at Boise State – tell us your passion and we’ll find you a path.