LMU and University of Costa Rica Collaboration Continues to Grow


Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) and the University of Costa Rica (UCR) may be separated by the 3,000 miles from Appalachia to Central America, but more and more students and faculty are reaping the benefits of the unique collaboration between these two schools. This partnership is also having an impact on conservation research that could produce benefits on a global level.


Jenny Rojas, a graduate student at UCR majoring in agronomy engineering, recently visited the LMU main campus in Harrogate, Tennessee. Along with presenting her master’s degree thesis in English for the first time and interacting with LMU students, she enjoyed cultural experiences like trying fried green tomatoes.


“This has been the full experience for me,” said Rojas. “In addition to working on my thesis, I interacted with students and faculty, took a mine tour, and went to a backyard barbeque. I will definitely be spreading the word and encouraging other students to go study at LMU.”


Rojas’ thesis measured and compared carbon in soil in different locations to discover strategies to increase carbon sequestration. Her results will be shared with Costa Rica’s government to provide farmers with best practices in land management and will help with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021. Rojas is one of a small group of students, faculty and staff who have visited LMU from the University of Costa Rica. LMU students and faculty travel regularly to the tropical nation to conduct research at the FEIMA research area.


Dr. Adam Rollins, dean of the LMU School of Mathematics and Sciences, initiated the relationship in 2008 when he contacted his graduate school classmate, Dr. Carlos Rojas, a professor at UCR. The official agreement to provide student exchanges for academic and research purposes was signed in 2017.


“Building these connections and being able to provide their students and our students opportunities to work together, to compare and contrast what goes on in Tennessee and Costa Rica, is incredibly valuable in many ways,” Rollins said.


Dr. LaRoy Brandt, associate professor of Conservation Biology and director of the Cumberland Mountain Research Center (CMRC), has taken the reins from Rollins and now facilitates much of the exchanges and interactions between LMU and UCR. In addition to starting some new research collaborations, Brandt led a trip over the 2019 Spring Break with LMU conservation biology students.  During that trip, Brandt also gave a research talk to the faculty and students at the San Jose campus of UCR on water quality assessment.  Brandt is currently developing a National Science Foundation grant proposal with Rojas and other UCR faculty to offer water quality assessment workshops in Costa Rica.


“Although I have been traveling to Costa Rica for research for many years, the agreement between LMU and UCR is allowing me to build stronger collaborations and will allow us to provide opportunities for both LMU and UCR to not only conduct research in other parts of the world, but to also learn about other cultures and how they work at solving environmental problems,” Brandt said.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423.869.6280 or email at [email protected].

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