|When UT Arlington assistant biology professor Eric Smith was a graduate student in 1996, he and a fellow student, Michael Harvey, pulled out a globe and started looking for a new place to explore.
They chose Indonesia. A trip on a shoestring budget allowed them to spend ten days in the jungle looking for frogs, lizards, turtles and other life. The pair returned to Texas with some unique specimens and a desire to go back someday.
Now they can - with the help of a three-year, $725,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Starting later this year, Smith and Harvey will begin a three-year project to explore and catalogue new species in the Indonesian portion of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes the highlands of Sumatra and Java. Their team will include researchers from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, the Bandung Institute of Technology and Brawijaya University in Indonesia, students from UT Arlington and Broward College in Florida and researchers from other universities.
"We calculated we were getting a new species of reptile or amphibian every four hours," Smith said of his 1996 adventure. "So that's how much work the area needed. It's a huge place and it will take a long time to explore what is there."
Smith is the lead investigator on the grant. He is also curator/researcher for UT Arlington's Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center. He has done most of his research over the past 15 years in Central America and Mexico. Harvey, now an associate professor at Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is co-principal investigator. Both men are UT Arlington graduates.
"UT Arlington biology professors train students to explore science in the lab and make a global impact," said Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science. "We are proud that the National Science Foundation has chosen to invest significantly in Eric Smith's work."
After the 1996 trip, Smith and Harvey published several scientific paper detailing discoveries from that trip, including the descriptions of three new species of flying frogs. Students and researchers at UT Arlington and at