National Geographic Highlights Professor Don McFarlane’s Borneo Bat Cave Expedition

2015-04-17-Don-McFarlane-batsClaremont, Calif. (April 17, 2015)— In a new video posted by National Geographic, Professor of Environmental Science and bat ecologist Donald McFarlane takes viewers deep into prime bat habitat in Borneo’s Gomantong Caves. McFarlane teaches at the W.M. Keck Science Department of Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Scripps Colleges.

McFarlane narrates the short video, explaining his research goal of examining the interaction between the bats and cave geology. He rappels down into the caves, hikes up a 70-foot tall slope of guano and wears a mask to guard against an array of bat-borne diseases. A National Geographic grantee, McFarlane uses state-of-the-art 3-D laser scanning technology and drone photography inside the caves, according to National Geographic’s Explorers Journal.

McFarlane has been awarded multiple grants from the National Geographic Society’s Global Exploration Fund, including grants that supported expeditions to the Gomantong Caves. In 2009, he was elected to the International Society of Explosives Engineers. He served as an official delegate to the 15th International Congress of Speleology and is currently president of the Commission on Archaeology and Palaeontology of Caves, Union Internationale de Spéléologie.

McFarlane has published more than 100 articles on many of his research interests, which include the ecology of extinction, paleobiology and paleoecology, the ecology of cave ecosystems and paleontology. And, of course, all things bats. He has led numerous student research projects at Pitzer College’s Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology.

McFarlane earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Liverpool, his master’s at Queens University of Belfast and his PhD at the University of Southern California.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

About the W.M. Keck Science Department

The W.M. Keck Science Department is the interdisciplinary home to all biology, chemistry, and physics faculty for Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Scripps colleges. The department is administered cooperatively and is housed within an 81,000-square-foot center located at the intersection of the three colleges. The department offers 13 discrete degree options, including dual-degree programs in partnership with schools of engineering and majors in conjunction with disciplines outside the sciences. The W.M. Keck Science Department provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary instruction in small class settings and numerous opportunities for students to conduct research.

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