Julian Kerbis Peterhans, a professor of natural science and sustainability studies in RU’s College of Professional Studies and an adjunct curator of mammals at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, accepted a Fulbright Scholarship for a full academic year at Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda, eastern Africa) one of the premier sub-Saharan academic institutions. He will be engaged in training African students in biodiversity survey techniques. This project follows on the heels of a 5-year award from the MacArthur Foundation in the mid-1990s, when Kerbis Peterhans contributed to a program to train over 60 African students in similar techniques in Ugandan National Parks.
Uganda lies at the forefront of continental biological diversity as well as environmental awareness, positioning it as a major player in African conservation initiatives. The existing infrastructure at Makerere University gives Kerbis Peterhans a platform to continue these efforts. In particular, the mid-elevation forests of Uganda are both understudied and are severely threatened due to their proximity to people and attempts at commercial development. These forests today are small remnants of a formerly pan-equatorial forest that has since fragmented due to climate change.
With support from the Department of Biology and Museum of Zoology at Makerere University, Kerbis Peterhans proposes to train a new cadre of African field biologists. His activities will include the training of students in the field, the survey of threatened forests, and the submittal of a major proposal for the development of a Master’s Program in Conservation Biology at Makerere.
Here at the SUST @ RU blog, we’ll follow Prof. Kerbis Peterhans’ adventures this year in Uganda and post updates on his conservation research and forest explorations. This experience is sure to enrich his teaching of the PLS 391 Seminar in Natural Science for adult learners in the PLS fast-track program at RU, as well as his SUST 330 Biodiversity course in the Sustainability Studies program; but they also serve to further establish important connections among Roosevelt University, the Field Museum, and international conservation efforts in Africa.