Hands-on ecology at Jasper Ridge
Ben Bravo ’16, MS ’17, will never forget the day he was accepted into the two-quarter ecology and natural history course at Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.
The Earth Systems biosphere track student had long wanted to join the community of ecosystem researchers and educators working at the 1200-acre preserve in the foothills near campus. That’s where he was most likely to be found as an upperclassman—patrolling by mountain bike, educating visitors, or climbing through dense brush in search of dusky-footed woodrat houses for his honors thesis research. As a coterminal master’s student, he also worked with managers at the nearby Arastradero Preserve to develop a camera trap system to stimulate both academic research and citizen engagement.
As an ecologist, Bravo hopes to continue studying the distribution and behavior of mammal populations to reduce conflict between humans and wildlife. His work at Jasper Ridge helped inspire this choice. “Of all the hats I wore, my position as a ranger made me feel the most alive,” he says. “Every week during my ride, I would see the same types of animals and wonder if I have as much influence on their lives as they have on mine.”