Welcome to the Virtual Rainforest.
I am Dr. Gerald Urquhart, creator and lead author of the Virtual Rainforest. Originally developed in 1997, the Virtual Rainforest is an educational website designed for K-12 education. I hope that students of all ages find it helpful.
I began traveling to the tropical rainforests nearly 20 years ago. My research has focused on Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica. During the 1990s, I also worked as a tour guide on the Amazon River.
My job is as a tropical ecologist and an assistant professor
of biology at Michigan State University. I teach in the Lyman Briggs
College at MSU, a residential, undergraduate program for the study
of science and society. I lead several study abroad programs to introduce students to the rainforests, including a short program in Nicaragua and a longer program in the Ecuadorian Amazon and Galapagos Islands.
My research focuses on the impacts of globalization
on tropical forests and their biodiversity. I have worked for nearly
20 years on the "Mosquito Coast" of Nicaragua in remote locations
that are now feeling the impacts of globalization.
A native of Michigan, I attended Lyman Briggs
College (where I now teach) as an undergraduate and received my M.S.
and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. I held a postdoctoral
position at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama
before coming back to MSU in 1998.
If you have any questions about the Virtual Rainforest or my research, please contact me via email.
Other authors have contributed to the new version of the Virtual Rainforest, including:
Chelsea Gladney is a graduate of Michigan State University, majoring in Environmental Science with a specialization in Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy. She has traveled to Nicaragua twice and taught science to children in the remote village of Orinoco. Chelsea contributed several accounts of species and life in Nicaragua to the Virtual Rainforest.
Chris Jordan is a researcher with Global Wildlife Conservation and Panthera, the world's largest research organization for the study of wild cat conservation. He completed his Ph.D. at Michigan State University in 2014 studying the people and rainforest mammals of Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast. His research focuses on the intersection of wildlife biology and cultural knowledge. He is working with local communities to assess the local ecological knowledge of different cultures, including the indigenous Miskito village of Kakabila and the Garifuna village of Orinoco. He is fluent in Spanish and, in addition to contributing to the species accounts, has translated the Virtual Rainforest into Spanish.
JP Lawrence is a herpetologist at studying poison frogs of the world for his Ph.D. at the University of Mississippi. He completed his masters degree at Michigan State University. A broadly trained naturalist with a love for everything that moves, JP brings a wealth of knowledge to the Virtual Rainforest.