Cuba 2018

Left to Right: Meghan Barrett, Dr. Dane Ward, Serena Joury, and Zack Smith from Drexel; Dr. Jose Andres Martinez Machado of the University of Cienfuegos. Photo by: Roger Thomas

For more about the trip, check out our Cuba 2018 blog and research summary, coming soon!

Dr. Dane Ward; photo by Roger Thomas

Project Lead: Dane Ward, PhD

Dr. Ward has returned to Cuba annually since 2014 as the ‘Environment’ instructor of the Community, Health, and the Environment course (CHE) instructed by Dr. Shannon Marquez at Drexel University. This year, the experience included mentoring an additional group of undergraduate iSTAR research students to help tackle an Eva Crane Trust funded project, studying native bee diversity, Melipona beecheii morphology, thermal tolerance, and learning.

Meghan Barrett; photo by Zack Smith

Co-PI: Meghan Barrett

Meghan Barrett is a graduate student in Dr. Sean O’Donnell’s lab at Drexel University, studying native bee diversity, morphology, and thermal tolerance in the Sonoran Desert. She was incredibly excited to work with Dr. Ward as Co-PI on the Eva Crane Trust project. This was her first (but hopefully not last) time in Cuba!


Roger Thomas


Support Staff: Roger Thomas

Roger Thomas, Operations Manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, joined Dr. Ward for a second year in Cuba in 2018. Roger provided scientific and logistical support to the group, as well as a bevy of excellent photos.


Undergraduate iSTAR Researchers: Serena Joury, Maggie McCurdy, Chandler Olson, Zack Smith

All iSTAR (internationally, Students Tackling Advanced Research) students from Drexel attended the Community, Health, and the Environment course in partnership with the University of Cienfuegos before partnering with UCF faculty and students to research tropical bee community ecology, as well as Melipona beecheii thermoregulation and learning.

Serena Joury


Serena Joury – Serena is a sophomore at Drexel, combining environmental science with product design. Serena hails from Jordan and loves being by the water – she is an accomplished scuba diver and also on Drexel’s sailing team.


Maggie McCurdy



Margaret McCurdy – Maggie is a sophomore environmental engineering major at Drexel University. While her passion for the environment started in high school, joining Drexel clubs like Engineers Without Borders and the Sierra Club has cemented her desire to pursue a career in an environmental field.




Chandler Olson


Chandler Olson – Chandler is a sophomore Biology major at Drexel University with ambitions to pursue a career in biological research, focal area still undecided. At Drexel, Chandler is also a member of the varsity wrestling team and the Biological Honor Society.



Zack Smith


Zachary Smith – Zack is an ambitious environmental science major at Drexel University who just completed his freshman year. Zack was previously an intern at Lacawac Sanctuary where he found his passion for working in freshwater environments. Throughout his life Zack has been an avid mountain biker, hiker, skier, and he also enjoys spending time outside with his family.



Funding thanks to: