Coral Reef and Tropical Rainforest Ecology & Conservation

Program Dates: June 6, 2023 - June 21, 2023

This biology field immersion program will be based in Belize with day and overnight trips to local destinations to experience, learn, and conduct research in tropical ecosystems of Mesoamerica. This is an upper-level course designed to introduce students to fundamental principles of Belizean culture and Mayan history, natural history, tropical rainforest ecology, watershed science, and coral reef ecology and conservation concerns throughout the country. Students will spend time in caves, tropical rainforests and mountains, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, barrier islands, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems. This program will combine two 3hr courses, Belizean Coral Reef and Rainforest Ecology and Belizean Coral Reef and Rainforest Conservation. Commencing in the spring semester, weekly pre-departure meetings of the class will allow introduction to the unique flora and fauna and ecology of Belize as well as prepare the group for productive research efforts and a safe and positive international experience. Lectures will also cover biogeography, culture, history and research of selected organisms. In country arrangements with Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and South Water Caye Marine Station will include guided day, night, and even overnight forays to observe and study the flora and fauna of the region. Students should be physically and mentally prepared for hiking, swimming, snorkeling, spelunking, canoeing and tubing, as well as studying and conducting research in a variety of situations. Airfare and all meals are included in the cost of this program.



Belize is a Caribbean and Central American country on the north-eastern coast of Central America. Its capital is Belmopan and its largest city is the namesake city of Belize City. Belize is often thought of as a Caribbean country in Central America because it has a history similar to that of English-speaking Caribbean nations. Indeed, Belize's institutions and official language reflect its history as a British colony. 

Belize's abundance of terrestrial and marine species and its diversity of ecosystems give it a key place in the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. It is considered a Central American and Caribbean nation with strong ties to both the American and Caribbean regions. It is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Central American Integration System (SICA), the only country to hold full membership in all three regional organizations.



The following classes will be offered during this program. Students will enroll in both courses. 

Course Prefix

Course Name



BIO 3532

Coral Reef and Tropical Rainforest Ecology


Shea Tuberty

BIO 3542

Coral Reef and Tropical Rainforest Conservation


Todd Jackson


Faculty Leaders

Dr. Shea Tuberty
Department of Biology


Dr. Shea Tuberty has been a professor of Zoology and Ecotoxicology in the ASU Biology Dept since 2002. As an undergraduate over 35 years ago he traveled to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji led by his faculty mentor, and that trip convinced him that an academic career in biology was to be his calling. He has now taught international courses to Australia (4x), Belize (4x), and New Zealand (3x), and has served as a faculty mentor on an ASE trip to Puerto Rico and a graduate research trips to Belize and Costa Rica. He also has extensive experience leading local/regional multi-day field trips with AppState and NC high school students. On his ‘free’ time Dr. Tuberty travels with his family, having covered all 50 US states, and 14 Canadian and Mexican provinces.


Dr. Todd Jackson
Laboratory Manager, Lecturer
Department of Biology



Dr. Jackson has spent a decade working on islands and the adjacent marine system in Baja California. Over that time period, he has led, educated, and trained many groups of students and volunteers to assist with research in the area. Having grown up in South Florida and having
been SCUBA certified in the Florida Keys, he is very experienced with Caribbean coral reefs and the species that occupy them. Central topics of his research are understanding the ecology of populations and communities in natural areas. These are critical to understanding systems well enough to develop effective conservation priorities. He has travelled throughout the southwestern states of the U.S. as well as the Yucatan peninsula, Peru, and the Galapagos.


Program Cost: $5,529

Program cost includes airfare, most meals, lodging, in-country transportation. 

Estimated Additional Expenses


Tuition - Resident

$152.54 / credit hour

Tuition - Non-Resident

$172.54 / credit hour

Personal Expenses




Please note that non-billable costs are estimates only and will be affected by personal spending habits, currency fluctuations, etc. Prices listed in USD unless otherwise noted. Students are encouraged to start planning for their study abroad program costs well in advance. 

Payment Schedule





 Upon receipt of application

Payment 1



Payment 2 



Payment 3



Appalachian reserves the right to cancel or alter the program format or to change costs in case of conditions beyond the university's control.  Further details about Appalachian's withdrawal/cancellation policy can be found at this link.


Application Process

  1. In order to apply for this program, you will need to contact one of the program leaders and provide your Banner ID and email address. Program leaders may request additional information or a meeting to discuss the details of the program and your interest.
  2. When permission to apply for the program is granted, you will receive an email from your faculty leader with a link to the application and further instructions.
  3. Your application will be considered complete when you have submitted it and paid the $300 deposit fee. The fee cannot be paid until it appears on your student account. Please note that it may take 2–3 business days for it to post to your account. You will receive an email with Instructions for paying the deposit fee. Instructions can also be found in the application.