Tropical forests and reefs represent only a small portion of the Earth’s surface but contain most of the planet’s biodiversity. How do inhabitants of the tropics evolve and learn to coexist? What lessons does nature offer humans as we seek to build sustainable societies?
Research at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama seeks to answer these questions and more, bringing advanced instrumentation and controlled experiments from the laboratory into the field to study animals under natural conditions. Doing this work in some of the most diverse habitats on the planet enables STRI to leverage the power of comparative biology to explore and test behavior in an exceptionally wide range of species living in the complex, natural situations for which those behaviors evolved. These efforts provide unique insights into the evolution of fundamental biological processes—from the evolution of perception to the consequences of sociality.
The NOMIS–STRI Fellowship Program supports exceptional scholars in a deliberate, multilayered collaborative setting designed to promote the interdisciplinary, synthetic study of animal behavior. NOMIS–STRI Fellows propose and carry out independent studies with advisors from STRI and partner institutions.
At the same time, the program’s cohort model approach is a mechanism to build a critical mass of early-career scientists and a strong peer-to-peer support network. Fellows are self-directed with the freedom to be innovative, while collaborating with and having the support and resources of the institute’s intersecting working groups.