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FNR Alumni Update: Andrus Releases Short Film, Set for Career in Scientific Documentaries

After nearly two years on the film festival circuit, Diversified: The Florida Panther Story is available for viewers to watch at home.

Watch the trailer here or take in the full 12-minute film here.

The short film, produced by 2015 wildlife and film and video studies dual degree alumna Olivia Andrus, discusses the decline of the Florida panther population and the genetic rescue program, which was developed to try to save the species from extinction.

The film, which was a finalist in the Independent Short Awards and won Best Web and New MediaFlorida Panther cub award at the IndieX Film Festival, features FNR professor Andrew DeWoody discussing genetic bottlenecking and how that can affect conservation efforts associated with threatened or endangered species.

While working toward a dual degree in film/video studies and wildlife biology, Andrus was impacted by DeWoody and turned to him when approaching the Florida Panther project four years later.

“As I went through the program, I had the pleasure of taking Dr. Andrew DeWoody’s Population Genetics class that would eventually change my life,” Andrus explained. “Fast forward to 2019, I became a graduate student in the Science and Natural History Filmmaking program at Montana State University. I was inspired to create a film about genetic bottlenecks, which was a major lesson taught by Dr. DeWoody in his Population Genetics class and decided to reach out to see if I could interview him. He was so gracious to take the time to be interviewed and we had a great time just talking about the hardcore science behind genetic bottlenecking. He was so generous with his time that he even allowed me to film in his lab and meet his graduate students. Afterwards, I went to Florida to work with Dave Onorato, who is the main scientist for the Florida panther project, and finish the film with both of their support behind it. The film has2015 alumna Olivia Andrus, producer of Diversified: A Florida Panther story been shown all around the world and has received amazing feedback from both the wildlife and film communities.”

Diversified was a semi-finalist at the Serbest International Film Festival, the Niagara Falls International Film Festival and Phoenix International Short Film Festival. It was officially selected for the Green Film Festival of San Francisco, S.O.F.A. Film Festival (Animals, Wildlife, Environment, Conservation), and the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival.

Andrus completed her master’s of fine arts in science and natural history filmmaking from Montana State University on Dec. 16, making her thesis film about dolphins in Australia, working in conjunction with the Marine Mammal Foundation and The Marine Mammal Center. She received the Scholarship Excellence Award, and has been featured in MSU’s Graduate Student Success Stories.

Andrus has recently received a job offer to film scientific documentaries for the United States government as part of the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration.

“The greatest reward in teaching is watching talented students take what they’ve learned and use it to succeed in life, like Olivia has done,” DeWoody said. He looks forward to enjoying future films that Andrus will make.

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