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Panama: Plant Systematics in Panama City and Bocas del Toro

panama island birds eye 715 x 300


Spring Break Program

The Department of Environmental and Plant Biology at Ohio University will be traveling to Panama City, Bocas del Toro for an intensive examination of about 110 tropical vascular plant families and 120 common ecologically or economically important genera and species. Over the course of the program, students will become proficient in sight identification of about 85 diverse tropical vascular plant families and have basic knowledge of another two dozen. Small groups of students will be rotated through a half-day tree climbing experience with world-renowned professional tree climber Joe Maher, a regular instructor at the ITEC station. This will provide students with a unique perspective on biological diversity in the tree canopy. Students will also prepare specimen collections and make labels for them as part of a group service project, with specimens donated to the Smithsonian Institution's Tropical Institute Herbarium at the end of the course.

Bocas Del Toro is a region with extraordinary biological diversity, largely intact rainforest cover over the region and a wealth of nearby terrestrial and aquatic environments. The marine environments rank as some of the most diverse in the world and are outstanding for snorkeling.

Program length

Spring Break (currently no program planned)

Eligibility and Selection Process

PBIO 1150 (Plant Structure) or its equivalent is required; PBIO 3190/5190 (Ohio Flora) or another advanced plant diversity course is strongly recommended. Preference will be given first to junior and senior PBIO undergraduates and graduates with stronger taxonomic background. Completion of mandatory orientation meetings during fall semester is also required.

Students who will be on probation at any point during the program for a conduct offense that took place less than a calendar year from the program start date may not study abroad.  Click here to read the entire conduct policy.

This program does not accept Non-Ohio University students.

Application deadline

Deadline: TBD

Living arrangements

In Panama City, students will stay in hotel accommodations. Once on Isla Colon students will stay at the ITEC field station where students will stay in dorm-style rooms. Most meals will be provided.

Courses and credits

  • PBIO 4090: Plant Systematics and Survey of Vascular Plant Families (4 cr)
  • PBIO 5090: Plant Systematics and Survey of Vascular Plant Families (4 cr) 



Find out about scholarships, using your financial aid and more for this program.

Non-resident surcharge waived for this program.

Additional Information on Panama

To learn more about this study abroad destination, please visit the  CIA World Factbook

Health and safety 

Ohio University Office of Global Opportunities suggests you follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control for healthy travel to your destination.Please familiarize yourself with these recommendations and requirements prior to applying to a program.

Refer to the State Department site  for information related to safety and security at this destination.

Also refer to  International SOS  for information related to safety and security at this destination. To log in to the International SOS website, please use the OHIO membership IS: 11BCAS000010.

Requesting accommodation for disabilities

If you plan to participate in an Ohio University-sponsored study abroad program and wish to request accommodation, you should contact the  Office of Student Accessibility Services  to schedule an appointment to complete an  Global Opportunities Disability Accommodation Request Form. We recommend you do this as early as possible to allow sufficient time to determine what accommodations may be made for this program.

Entry and exit requirements 

U.S. citizens are required to have a valid U.S. passport when traveling outside of the United States.  If you plan to study or travel abroad in the next year, apply for your passport now. Passports must be valid at least 6 months after arrival date in Panama.

It is each student’s individual responsibility to determine the entry and exit requirements specific to their personal situation.  Some countries also require a visa to legally enter and reside in the country. The following information will hold true for most US passport holders. Entry and exit requirements for this country can be found here.

 US citizens will not need a visa or other special documents to enter the country for the length of this program. You may need to show sufficient funds to support yourself while in-country.  Please also note that visa requirements may vary if you plan to stay in the country longer than the program dates, if you have recently visited the country, or if you plan to travel to other countries during or after the program.  Please familiarize yourself with these recommendations and requirements prior to applying to a program in order to determine your appropriate course of action.

For more specific visa related information please visit OGO’s   Visa Information Page .  
Information for NON-US citizens can be found  here

For more information, contact:

Dr. Harvey Ballard
Department of Environmental and Plant Biology 
Faculty Director

Kirsten Dabelko
Global Opportunities
Senior Program Coordinator





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