Before he even enrolled at the University of Rhode Island, Tyler Bawden had already made important contributions to his chosen discipline. He co-authored a research paper on a rare turtle, the diamondback terrapin, and helped pass a state law to protect the species.
His interest in turtles and other creatures emerged from a childhood enjoying the outdoors and getting his hands dirty. But he also wants his actions to make a difference in the world around him. “I want to educate the public about how they can get involved and not take wildlife and the environment for granted,” he said. “It’s as easy as making one change in your life to make a big impact.”
His most far-reaching impact during his URI career occurred last summer on a tiny island in Long Island Sound, where he spent six weeks studying the 12,000 pairs of seabirds that nest on the island. Working with scientists from the American Museum of Natural History, he conducted foraging studies, monitored nesting success, and banded many of the birds.
Research was only one element of his college experience. He served as treasurer of the URI Scuba Club for three years and became involved with the URI SMILE program (Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences), developing lesson plans and educating children about the STEM disciplines.
“I tell people that whenever I work with the kids in the program, I learn as much from them from the questions they ask and the way they view things,” Tyler said.
His campus leadership positions and a leadership award he received from the URI Department of Natural Resources Science are an outgrowth of his academic minor in leadership studies.
“Leadership is a lot more than being in charge or being the boss,” he said. “It starts by knowing yourself and discovering what others need from me as a leader. I see the leadership minor as a seal of approval that I’m professional and competent when it comes to being hired.”