Vitek Jirinec grew up in Prague, Czech Republic. In his early teens, he moved with his family to Southern California. A Wildlife Biology major, he has traveled extensively in pursuit of his research on birds. He is the recipient of the Lorene J. Harris Scholarship for promising undergraduates in wildlife, set up by professor emeritus of Wildlife Stanley W. Harris and his wife, Lorene.
Avoiding grizzly bears
"I just spent my second summer in northern Alaska working for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Our crew was dropped off by bush plane and we camped out on the tundra for two months, gathering data on nesting birds, banding them, collecting blood samples for avian influenza tests, and avoiding grizzly bears."
Lots of travel
"Following my Costa Rica internship for the Redwood Sciences Lab, I flew to Jamaica to help perform research on migratory birds in coffee farms. For five weeks, I captured birds and tracked radio-tagged individuals via telemetry in and out of coffee farms."
Scholarship = more time
"Receiving the scholarship money was crucial in eliminating my need to get a part-time job, which would divert my time from extracurricular activities and finishing my honors thesis project."
Watched by spider monkeys
"In Belize [with HSU's Sierra Institute], I remember jumping into a clear, fast stream and emerging downstream from a limestone cave where bioluminescent bacteria covered the ceiling above broken pieces of Mayan pottery. Flying through the river, I caught glimpses of spider monkeys curiously watching me from the canopy above."
"I had a number of great professors at HSU, but Matt Johnson went out of his way to open many doors for me that may be critical in my search of a graduate program."