Marine Biology Program Producing Graduates From IPFW Fort Wayne Campus | News, Sports, Jobs


Students collect information on a sea turtle as part of a research program organized by Professor Frank V. Paladino of IPFW. The university’s marine biology program has trained around 50 people, many of whom have embarked on successful careers in the field. (Courtesy of Prof. Frank V. Paladino of IPFW)

When you think of IPFW graduate students, it’s typical to think of them entering fields such as education, business, healthcare, and engineering. But the university is also a hub for successful marine biology graduates.

Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, which will split into the Purdue Fort Wayne and Indiana Fort Wayne programs on July 1, is located along the Saint Joseph River.

But how does an otherwise landlocked Midwestern university deliver a successful marine biology degree? Through its faculty of biology department.

Key figure was Professor Frank V. Paladino, Jack W. Schrey Distinguished Professor of Biology at IPFW and President of the Fort Wayne-based nonprofit The Leatherback Trust, which works to save leatherback turtles. and other sea turtles.

During more than 35 years of teaching at IPFW, Paladino has been involved in training 45 master’s students, three doctoral students and four post-docs, he said via email.

“I have attracted students from all over the world – Greece, England, Spain, Costa Rica and, of course, the United States, because of my work with sea turtles,” he said.

He has also involved other IPFW professors in research in Costa Rica, where much of his research on sea turtles is focused, he said.

“There are six other professors who have authored here on my posts,” he said. “So I created a group that had interest and attracted students.

Students gain hands-on marine biology research experience offered primarily during spring break trips to the Caribbean region.

“We have a 10-day trip to Costa Rica and a 9-day trip to the Bahamas that students register and pay for through IPFW,” Paladino said.

The students work hard and publish their results in top scientific journals, which has helped them build successful careers, he said.


Students who have received a graduate degree from the IPFW Marine Biology program include:

• Callie Veelenturf, 2017 alumna, now works as a research marine biologist for the Turtle Island Restoration Network in California. A photo of her researching next to a leatherback turtle was named the winner of Nature’s #ScientistAtWork 2018 photo contest.

• Thomas Backof, a 2013 alumnus, worked in Greece studying loggerhead turtles and is now a biological science technician at the National Park Service’s South Padre Island National Seashore in Texas. His work has focused on Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, a critically endangered species.

• Lauren Cruz, a 2016 alumna, now works as a research biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s East Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex near Warsaw, Va., Where she works with sea turtles. and nesting seabirds along the coast. She has just published her first scientific paper, which examined the effects of light intensity and wavelength on the behavior of olive ridley hatchlings in water, in the Journal of Marine Biology.

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