Think you have wild neighbors? Actually, we all have a lot more wild neighbors than we realize—creatures like owls and coyotes and bald eagles­—and soon we may be able to use our smartphones to find out just who and where they are, thanks to Saint Mary’s faculty and students.

Through a project called “Facing the Future: Sharing Habitats with Wildlife,” SMC students and professors will collaborate with the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek to digitally map local wildlife and then develop a mobile app that will help people learn more about the complex web of life that surrounds them in the East Bay.

The project, which is funded by a $50,000 grant from the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, “gives students real-life hands-on experience in designing for a client and working in the real world,” said Math and Computer Science Professor WeiWei Pan, whose students will develop the mobile app in consultation with the museum.   

The overall goal is to increase awareness of urban wildlife habitats among adults and children, including the 100,000 annual visitors to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, said Chemistry Professor Steve Bachofer, who spearheaded the grant, and to underscore the urgent need to protect these habitats and wildlife corridors.

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