Ian Nichols is a second year PhD student in the Biology Department at Drexel University focusing on conservation biology. He became fascinated with the natural world at an early age. After high school he began working in conservation, volunteering at a lowland gorilla orphanage in Gabon, Africa. While in college, Ian found his talent in photography and upon graduation, obtained a grant from the National Geographic Society to document chimpanzee tool use in the Republic of Congo. This started Ian’s photography career and he began working for notable organizations, including National Geographic Magazine and the Smithsonian Institute. Ian returned to university to become a greater force for conservation by understanding the science behind it.
On his Fulbright, Ian plans to study primates in agroforestry habitats in Cameroon. The greatest danger to primates, and most species, is habitat loss. Agroforestry is a type of agriculture where a forest can be maintained and commodity or food crops are grown in the understory. Development that requires a forest could be an important tool for conservation as it protects biodiversity while providing jobs. There are still, however, many unknowns about how primates utilize agroforestry habitats in Africa, which is what his research aims to answer. Ian is grateful to the scientists that encouraged him along the way, the outstanding team in Drexel fellowships and Dr. Meredith Wooten, Dr. Jon Gelhaus in the Drexel BEES department, and the support of his advisor Dr. Katy Gonder.