Marine Biology

Who knew that Purdue Fort Wayne would become A hotbed of Marine Biology!  A new Academic Center of Excellence in Marine Conservation and Biology. By Frank V. Paladino Ph. D. FAAAS

Who would have thought the The Leatherback Trust based at Purdue University Fort Wayne would be a producer of such a large and successful crop of Marine Biologists.  As strange as it sounds the past 35 years a steady stream of Marine Biologists have passed through the Biology program at this campus in large part because of the presence of Dr. Frank V. Paladino, the Jack W. Schrey Distinguished Professor of Biology and President of an NGO called The Leatherback Trust based here in Fort Wayne, IN. 

Frank Paladino, Nathan Robinson and Stephen Morreale in South Africa with Leatherback

For 35 + years Frank Paladino has been supported by over $3,500,000 in grants from The Center for Field Research “Earthwatch”, The National Geographic Society, The PEW Foundation, The National Science Foundation, The Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo as well as many other organizations to conduct research mostly in Central America, but also in Africa, Greece,  and China on endangered marine species as well as Pandas.  Dr. Paladino has taken over 1700 undergraduates and graduate students on intensive field lab courses in Costa Rica and the Bahamas as well as trained 53 MS graduate students , 3 Ph. D.’s students and 4 Post Doctoral fellows in the Purdue university system.  He and his students have published over 120 scientific papers in the top journals in the world and many are now working in key positions as Marine Biologists around the world. 

This past year one of his most recent students Ms Callie Veelenturf was selected as the best example of a biologist working in the field.  This photo was selected by the #1 Scientific journal in the world NATURE as the photo that best represented field research. Callie after receiving her MS Purdue Fort Wayne degree is now a Research Marine Biologist working for the Sea Turtle Island Restoration Network, based in California. 

2017 IPFW Alum Callie Veelenturf won Nature’s 2018 #ScientistAtWork photo contest! Callie’s photo won first place out of over 330 submissions.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-04881-z
A photo celebration of scientists at work @nature.com

Another recent Purdue Fort Wayne graduate in 2013, Thomas Backof who worked in Greece studying loggerhead sea turtles now is a Marine Biologist working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service on South Padre Island, Texas. His work with the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle has been critical to the survival of this marine reptile. 

Tom Backof and a nesting Kemp’s ridley

Another recent graduate of Purdue University with his Ph.D. in 2016 Dr. Nathan Robinson is now the research director of the Bahamian Research Center Cape Eleuthera Institute, Cape Eleuthera Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas.   Here he is with Dr. Paladino and Dr. Stephen Morreale from Cornell University on a beach in South Africa working with endangered Leatherback Turtles.

A 2016 Purdue Fort Wayne Biology Alumni Ms Lauren Cruz is now working as a research biologist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 336 Wilna Road, Warsaw, VA 22572 USA.  She just published her first scientific paper in the Journal of Marine Biology on the impact of light on the behavior of emerging hatchling Olive ridley sea turtles.  She is now working along the US East coast with nesting sea turtles and birds.

Lauren Cruz working with nesting birds and turtles along the East Coast.

Finally another recent graduate of Purdue Fort Wayne Biology Ms. Amber Rhodes is working for the US National Park Service as a research biologist on the East Coast also working with Sea Turtles along the Virginia and North Carolina Coast.    

Amber Rhodes measuring a Green turtle nesting on Playa Cabuyal in Costa Rica.

So when someone asks, “Where should I go to become a Marine Biologist?”  you might want to tell them Purdue University Fort Wayne Biology is the place to go and get the classes and experience to become a Marine Biologist.  

That is why there is a newly established Center of Excellence at PFW called The PFW Center for Study of Marine Conservation and Biology!