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Panama: Tropical Biology

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Program Type

  • OHIO Credit

Academic Focus

  • STEM


  • Panama

Program Term

  • Spring Break

Application Deadline

The priority deadline (May 6th) has passed. 

Apply by October 1st  for consideration on the waitlist.

For More Information, Contact

Harvey Ballard
Program Director

Williem Roosenburg
Program Director

Emily Englehart
Program Coordinator, Office of Global Opportunities

Apply for this OHIO Credit Program


This is a fully integrated tropical biology program investigating biological diversity, animal ecology, plant and animal evolutionary syndromes, cross-species interactions, and current conservation issues impacting terrestrial and marine environments. Pre-departure lectures prior to spring break will provide content and activities to foster a sense of community. 

Highlights and Excursions 

The field course is highly experiential, and will encompass the following: 

  • daily field hikes to learn common plants and animals, natural history, evolutionary principles and trophic interactions, and discuss community organization in diverse terrestrial habitats; 
  • late afternoon snorkeling to learn common marine animals and plants and to investigate coral reef and mangrove community diversity and ecology; 
  • half-day transect/plot sampling to compare flora and fauna in pristine rainforest, selectively logged rainforest, pasture tracts, swamps, and coastal areas; 
  • half-day tree canopy climbing experience in small groups to explore canopy diversity and ecology (rotating to accommodate whole group); 
  • half-day snorkeling research trip to census of blue-headed wrasse populations on coral heads and analyze frequency of sexual morphs; 
  • night-time field trips to hunt nocturnal insects, reptiles and amphibians; 
  • excursions to a sustainable chocolate farm, a bat hibernaculum, and an abandoned teak farm with a thriving tarantula population;  
  • SCUBA diving excursion for certified students; 
  • mini-independent study involving observations on an organism of the student’s choice, conducted intermittently throughout the field course, and summarized in a presentation to the group following spring break; 
  • and a farewell group supper. 

Information Sessions

Information sessions are:


Interested students must attend one of these three information sessions. The application deadline for the program is Oct. 1, 2022. Students must have completed either PBIO 1150 or BIOS 1710 and 1715. Seniors and juniors in biology and related areas will be given priority in the application process, but others may be accepted where spots are available.

Good to Know

Participants will engage in extensive walking/standing and some water-based activities while out in the field. The field station location features limited/no wifi or cell service and is in a more remote location. Participants should consider the high level of physical endurance that may be needed to participate on this program. 

Living Arrangements 

Participants will stay at the ITEC field station.  

Program Dates 

Saturday, March 8 - Sunday March 16, 2025


Participants will register for 4 credit hours and choose from one of the following courses: 

  • BIOS 4900 Special Topics in Biological Sciences  
  • PBIO 4850 Global Studies in Plant Biology (Tier III) 
  • PBIO 5850 Global Studies in Plant Biology  (Grad Students Only)

Students must have completed either PBIO 1150 or BIOS 1710 & 1715. 


The program fee for this program includes: Student airfare (round trip: Columbus, OH to Panama City, Panama), group transportation (round trip: Athens to Columbus airport), accommodations, all meals while at field station, excursions, in-country transportation to all program related activities, welcome and farewell meals, and international emergency medical health insurance.

In addition to the program fee, students should plan for 4 credit hours of tuition*, administrative fee, and out-of-pocket costs. Below is the student budget worksheet for this program, which outlines these costs.  

Panama: Tropical Biology - Undergraduate Student Budget Worksheet 2025 

Panama: Tropical Biology - Graduate Student Budget Worksheet 2025 

Items that are not related to the program (ie. additional entertainment, souvenirs, extra travel, contingency funds) are not included in the cost estimates provided and should be budgeted for separately.  


  • If you are nominated to this program, you will be required to pay a deposit to confirm your participation. The deposit is a down payment on the total costs to be billed by OHIO and is determined by the total cost of the program. 
  • For programs completed over winter-break and spring break, the credit-hours associated with the program are part of the spring semester. Students taking between 12 to 20 Athens campus hours, including those associated with the program, will not incur additional tuition costs for the spring semester. Students taking less than 12 or more than 20 Athens campus credits for the spring term will see their tuition charge adjusted accordingly.  

Funding Opportunities

More information on financial aid and scholarships can be found on our funding pages.

Eligibility and Requirements 

This program is open to undergraduate Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors who have a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Preference is given to upperclassmen. 

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.  Read the entire conduct policy.

Participants must have a at least a high school diploma or the equivalent (e.g. GED) by the start date of the program to be considered for eligibility.  Students enrolled in College Credit Plus (CC+) are not eligible for study away programs.

Application Requirements

Applicants must submit:

  • a copy of their DARs.

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. Some countries also require a visa to legally enter or reside in the country. 

U.S. citizens  will not  need a visa or other special document to enter the country for the length of this program. Please also note that visa requirements may vary if you plan to stay in the country longer than the program dates or travel to other countries during or after the program. Please familiarize yourself with these recommendations and requirements prior to applying to this program. 

For more specific visa related information, please visit OGO’s  Visa Information Page 

Information for  Non-U.S. citizens