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Students working on projects in Africa

Seven WKU students and two biology faculty members are participating in research and community engagement projects in Africa.

Four students are in Kenya and three are in South Africa working on projects directed by Dr. Bruce Schulte, biology department head, and Dr. Michael Stokes, biology professor.

WKU biology graduate student Simon Kasaine surveys damage to crops caused by elephants in Kasigau, Kenya. Kasaine is researching patterns of elephant-human conflict for his master’s thesis. This research is part of a larger program of research in human-wildlife conflict in Africa conducted by WKU and University of Nairobi and funded by the National Science Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Photo by Jake Stevens)

As part of a project on human-elephant conflict in Kenya, WKU graduate student Simon Kasaine of Kenya is developing a database of elephant damage to small subsistence farms and identifying elephants most commonly doing the damage. This will be used to develop high-tech mitigation tactics.

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through their joint Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program.

Undergraduate biology student Anna Mantooth of Shepherdsville is assisting on a different part of the BREAD program. Mantooth is working in South Africa on an audio library of sounds and assessing the responses of foraging African buffalo, bush pigs, baboons and other species to random sequences of these sounds.

Graduate students Maggie Hook of Victoria, Minn., and Malgorzata Wisniewska of Bowling Green are investigating elephant behavior associated with elephant-lion interactions and with expansion of Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa.

In Kenya, biology graduate student Andrea Falcetto of Emporia, Kan., is exploring new directions for WKU’s existing program in human-wildlife conflict research, with an emphasis on the human side.

Also in Kenya, on an assignment for the Applied Research and Technology Program in WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering, photojournalism major Jake Stevens of Scranton, Pa., is developing new media productions for the projects and for WKU’s overall program.

WKU SIFE student Amy Logan, who is coordinating sustainable economic development programs for WKU’s cooperative Kenyan research program, stands in a new basket weaver’s building constructed with funds returned to the local women from SIFE’s previous basket initiatives. (Photo by Jake Stevens)

WKU student Amy Logan of Louisville is working on an expansion of the SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) and biology department’s Kenyan basket project and is assisting the village women to develop shipping protocols to double the volume of baskets for which SIFE assists in finding markets in the United States.

WKU’s Kenyan program, led by the Biology Department, is conducted in cooperation with University of Nairobi.

Contact: Biology Department, (270) 745-3696.

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