Organization for Tropical Studies

The Organization for Tropical Studies is a non-profit consortium of 64 research institutions and universities from around the world.  It was created in 1963 to focus on education, research, and management of natural resources in the tropics.  Auburn University has been an OTS member institution since 1987, and became a permanent member in 2014.

As a member, Auburn students and faculty have access to educational, research, and funding opportunities that are not available to non-member institutions.  OTS is involved in teaching more than 15 different graduate and undergraduate courses, environmental education, facilitating tropical research, and operating three biological research stations in Costa Rica.

What courses are available to Auburn students?

Graduate Courses:

    Tropical Biology: An Ecological Approach

    Tropical Plant Systematics

    Molecular Methods in Tropical Ecology

    Conservation Biology and Wildlife Management (in Uganda, Africa)

    Tropical Biology (through the Tropical Biology Association in East Africa

    and Madagascar)

    Tropical Agroecology (taught in Spanish)

    Ecology of Tropical Coastal Ecosystems (taught in Spanish)

    Amazonian Ecosystems (taught in Spanish)

Undergraduate Courses:

Semester Abroad (includes Tropical Biology, Environmental Science, and Spanish)

Summer Abroad (three courses offered)

  1. Field Tropical Biology
    – Introduction to Field Ethnobotany
    – Research Experience in Tropical Biology

Advanced Courses: (for postdoctoral scholars, junior faculty, and advanced graduate students)

    Advanced Comparative Neotropical Ecology: A Field Course

What does participation in OTS do for you?

        Participation in OTS courses provides Auburn students with a complete foundation in tropical biology.  In addition students have interactions with faculty who have considerable tropical experience, students and researchers currently doing research in the tropics, and peers on courses who are likely to form the next generation of tropical biologists.  Once students have completed the course, there are considerable opportunities for continued research (including logistical and financial assistance) in the tropics.

Graduate Fellowships:

OTS offers research fellowships that are open to all students enrolled at Auburn as well as all OTS course alumni.  Through Pilot Awards and Research Fellowships, Auburn graduate students have access to up to $6500 for research projects in the tropics.

OTS Undergraduate Minority Scholars Program:

Minority undergraduate students at Auburn are eligible to apply for scholarships that can be used for the full semester abroad as well as the summer abroad courses offered through OTS.  Through this program students receive a full scholarship.

Auburn OTS Alumni:

Ron Cave (1985)

Ed Wester (1987)

Emmett Blankenship (1988)

Kirsten Nicholson (1988)

Paige Carithers (1995)

Karan Bailey (Schnuelle) (1995)

Robert Reed (1995)

Chris Leary (1996)

Scott Boback  (1999)

Kristin Bakkegard (2000)

Ed Jhee (2001)

Matt Williams (2001)

John Steffen (2002)

Abbie Sorenson (2002)

Ashley Rall (2003)

Karrie Anne Fadroski (2003)

Kyle Barrett (2003)

Andrew Hein (2005)

Evi Paemelaere (2006)

Sarah Hamilton (2007)

Jessica Stephens (2007)

Lisa McWilliams (2008)

David Steen (2010)

Chris Murray (2012)

Brian Folt (2012)

Nicole Garrison (2014)

Auburn Faculty Participants:

Upton Hatch – Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology

Biological Sciences – Jason Bond, Robert Boyd, Craig Guyer, Sharon Hermann, Michael Wooten – Biological Sciences

Entomology and Plant Pathology – Micky Eubanks, Michael Williams

For more information contact the Auburn OTS Delegates:

Dr. Chelsea Ward (
Department of Biology, AU-Montgomery

Dr. Jason Bond (
Department of Biological Sciences