Woodward’s FIG includes the ecology seminar – Rainforests and Coral Reefs – plus General Chemistry and one of four Spanish classes. During winter break, the group takes an optional trip to Ecuador where students put their knowledge to work on focused research projects in the Amazon rain forest. Truby said the experience taught her a lot about how tropical ecology research works — including things outside the realm of science. “I used my Spanish a lot because our guide spoke only Spanish,” she says. “It’s amazing to take what
we learned in the classroom and apply it in the real world.” Students and faculty say the FIG concept, which began in 2001 and is administered by the College of Letters & Science, connects freshmen socially and academically and helps bring the university’s large scale down to a more personal level.
Logan March, Carly Wilson and Liam Olson in Ecuador’s Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. (Courtesy of Logan March)
“Many freshmen end up in classes with hundreds of students,” Woodward says. “It’s hard for professors to have meaningful relationships at that stage, when there are so many students. Here, the freshmen get individual attention.”