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Fred 1, Hurricane 0

Posted on November 30, 2012 by in The OFI Blog

Fred Lala’s Fellowship Succeeds Despite Many Challenges

Fred Lala has been serving as a short-term fellow in the National Museum of Natural History this fall but returns home to Kenya today. He writes about his Smithsonian Fellowship experience here….

I arrived in the USA on 22 October just right in time to prepare for the Sandy Storm. It was my first time to witness such type of a storm that I found to be quite scary, as we don’t have such type of storms back in Kenya. I was however amazed by the forecast concerning the time it was suppose to start and how long it would last which was quite accurate.

The cold was also quite a challenge I hope when I get a chance to come back again it will be during the warmer seasons so that I don’t have to miss the warm climate back in Kenya.

Administratively there was a lot of paperwork to be done, and many offices to be visited to get the Stipend and Badge. It was a challenge figuring out how I could get to the States as the current regulation only allows the Visitor to be paid once he arrives, this can be a challenge as I know many prospective visitors from my country won’t be able to afford to raise the air fare.

I have been able to get a lot done in my brief stay, our initial plans was to have a paper and a bone guide to be used by ecologist back at home, but so far we have been able to draft two papers with my supervisor Kay Behrensmeyer as well as prepare a poster which I will share with my institution once I get home later this month. We hope with this we shall be able to communicate better the results of the study we did to the other wildlife managers in Kenya and also encourage other upcoming scientists to embrace Taphonomy as an important ecological tool in wildlife monitoring, which is much cheaper compared to other techniques being used. The bone guide on the other hand will be useful for wildlife ecologist to be able to identify the common wildlife bones in their protected areas and be able to distinguish it from the livestock bones which has been quite a challenge in our protected areas.

I’ve enjoyed my stay so far, the Smithsonian Family is very friendly making it easy for me to adapt in the workplace.

Safe travels Fred!