Program Overview

The tropics, which occupy about seven percent of the Earth’s surface, contain the bulk of our biodiversity (maybe as high as 50%), and they also are the regions that are experiencing some of the highest rates of destruction. At the current rate of destruction, the tropical forests will be completely gone in less than 200 years. The destruction of tropical systems is having many adverse consequences: regional and global climate patterns are changing, potentially important medicinal compounds and other useful products are disappearing, and we are losing much of our biological heritage. There still exists an immense amount of knowledge to be gained from studying tropical ecosystems and a desperate need for more experts in the field of tropical biology.

The program includes a two-credit preparatory upper-division biology course taught on the University of Oregon campus in the spring quarter and eight-credits of courses in Ecuador. All courses are part of the regular biology curriculum at the University of Oregon and taught by Research Assistant Professor Peter Wetherwax, University of Oregon Department of Biology. Work with additional scientists and guides while in Ecuador (most are Ecuadorian).

Galápagos Archipelago

You will travel to and study in several different ecosystems in Ecuador including 4 days on Isabela Island, the largest island on the Galápagos Archipelago. You will leave with a local family and learn about the environment that is considered a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’ and  inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

Watch Professor Peter Wetherwax discuss the origins of his field research and the work he continues to do with students in Ecuador.



Additional requirements

  • Academic standing of at least 25 credits by departure for UO students
  • Completion of UO BI 213 or 283H or equivalent by the end of spring term 2019, or by approval of faculty leader.
  • This program involves some significant hiking, camping and outdoor activity. Students should be in good physical condition to participate.

Housing Description

While in Quito, you will stay in hotels. Other nights will be spent either in shared dormitory-style rooms at research stations and lodges, or in tents on a platform with thatched roof. In one of the cloud forest sites, and the Galápagos Islands, you will stay with a local family with 2 students placed in each home. Some meals will be served by your host families. All of the other sites have a dining room that serves good, simple meals. Vegetarian meals are available, but vegan meals are not. All meals are included in the program fee with the exception of three meals.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearPriority DeadlineDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date
Priority Deadline
Arrival Date
Departure Date

Travel Advisories

For current health, safety, and travel advisory information, search the US Departmment of State country webpage.

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.