Aristide Kamla, a Fulbright Scholar from Cameroon

Aristide Kamla, an incoming Ph.D. student from Cameroon at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and a Fulbright Scholar, has chosen to focus his studies on manatee health.

Kamla’s passion for African manatees arose during his first year of his master’s degree program at the University of Dschang in Cameroon with his discovery that the mammal is a threatened and understudied species.

Kamla realized that UF was the ideal university to gain expertise in manatee research and conservation after working with students and faculty of the UF veterinary college in a marine mammal conference in Tampa. He participated in manatee health assessment activities led by U.S. Geological Survey staff at Crystal River and was impressed by all the techniques and technology deployed to capture manatees to collect data samples without hurting the animal.

Although the high cost of education in the United States posed a challenge for Kamla, someone at the conference advised him about the Fulbright scholarship program and encouraged him to apply. Kamla said that he Fulbright scholarship made his dream become a reality because the program gave him a chance to become what he always wanted to be. “It provided me with great opportunity to network with other Fulbright students from around the world,” said Kamla. “Now I can embrace the world in the diversity of this culture.”

Kamla will strengthen his research focus through UF’s Aquatic Animal Health program and will focus on the diversity and prevalence of pathogens among the African manatees in Cameroon. In the past, Kamla studied zoonotic diseases with Global Viral, an American research organization based in Cameroon while simultaneously conducting independent research into manatee distribution.

After finishing his doctorate degree at UF, Kamla has plans to return to Cameroon to continue conducting research activities on the African manatee and hopes to relay the knowledge he received at UF to students and researchers interested in marine mammal sciences.

Story by Monique Hernandez, senior public relations major at the UF School of Journalism and Communications