Summer Research at Osa Conservation in Costa Rica

By Melissa Mattwig ’17

Melissa conducts water sampling for her research.
Melissa Mattwig ’17 conducts water sampling for her research.

This past summer I was given the amazing opportunity to represent Allegheny College and Creek Connections at Osa Conservation in Costa Rica for two months. The primary reason for my trip was to conduct global health research on the water quality on road transects and in the nearby town of Puerto Jimenez.

With this data I was able to get an idea of the effects that certain activities, such as deforestation and agriculture, had on the surrounding ecosystems.

In addition to my research, I also was able to help Jim Palmer, associate professor of biology and environmental science and Creek Connections director, with chemical testing and macroinvertebrates when La Paz International School (La Paz, Bolivia) came down to Osa for a week. It was really great to incorporate all the Creek Connections skills I had developed throughout my first year as a Creeker and put them to use in helping kids develop their own research projects during their stay.

Melissa moves an Olive Ridley sea turtle nest to a hatchery.
Melissa moves an Olive Ridley sea turtle nest to a hatchery.

After La Paz left, I was able to use my spare time to participate in the sea turtle program at Osa and often went on turtle patrols to keep track of the sea turtles that frequented the beaches.

Throughout the summer, I was able to meet people from all over the world and seized the educational opportunities given to me when other educational groups came to Osa to utilize the rich environment.

I am so grateful for the experience, and I really hope I can travel back to Costa Rica and continue to develop the relationship that Creek Connections has in Central America!


Melissa Mattwig is a biology and environmental science double major with a French and Spanish double minor. Her project was funded by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that supported the development of the Allegheny College Global Health Studies program.