As I mentioned in our earlier post introducing Ryan Boarman we’ve been lucky enough to increase our internship program with our new panda projects. Not only will Ryan be traveling to China in about one month, but Maria Blanco Perez will also be joining us!
Maria is from Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located close to the southwest coast of Morocco.
She is a recent biology graduate, and plans to start her masters program in conservation biology by September, 2015. She recently received her Bachelors from IE University Segovia where she majored in Biology and minored in Business Administration. She took a year off after graduation because she wanted to gain more working experience. She was an exchange student at Michigan State University Michigan during her Bachelors and is currently working in Arizona (my home state!).
She has had extensive conservation biology work experiences. She spent two months studying tortoises in the Zoo Aquarium de Madrid designing an ethogram for Stigmochelys pardalis and Geochelone sulcata. Maria has also worked on Spiny Softshell turtles (Apalone spinifera), studying nest predation and reproduction habits of the turtles with the use of time-lapse cameras. (I have to inject here that I thought it was random that both my hired interns had work on tortoises). In early 2014 she conducted field research in Kruger National Park, South Africa helping a phD student on plant ecology work. This introduced her to the amazing flora in Kruger National Park such as the Baobabs and the Acacias. Right now she is volunteering as a field assistant for a non-invasive carnivore study in Arizona. During her stay she has visited different national parks (Saguaro National Park, Chiricahuas and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument) to set time-lapse cameras and animal track plates which will hopefully capture large carnivore movements.
She is very excited to go to China (since she has never been there), and especially to study giant pandas! And of course, it goes without saying that we are also super excited to have her on the team! Help us give a big welcome to Maria and keep an eye out on posts from her in China.
The interns will arrive at the beginning of March and we’ll have a giant panda behavior “boot camp”. If you remember from Stephanie’s internship, those first couple of weeks can be intense in the winter so blog posts are sure to be awesome! Plus, during the first couple of days there it’s the Lantern Festival which marks the end of the Chinese New Years Celebrations!