Research Experience for Undergraduates Program
Funding was confirmed on Feb 27, 2014 for the 2014 La Selva REU program. Student notifications and mentor solicitations have been emailed out. If you have questions, please email undergradprograms @ ots.ac.cr. More details about the 2014 program will appear on this page next week, but the dates of the program will remain June 8 to August 15.
Learn how to conduct your own ecological research in the rainforest, one-on-one with an experienced tropical biologist (all expenses and stipend included)!
The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a nonprofit consortium that has provided leadership in education, research, and responsible use of natural resources in the tropics since 1963. OTS is committed to increasing the participation of women and ethnic minorities underrepresented in science. As part of this effort, OTS and the National Science Foundation offer a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in Costa Rica that provides hands-on, field-oriented research experiences to a diverse cohort of undergraduate students from the United States.
What is the program like?
Students from diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds will complete an independent research project in the field, from the project planning stage through to symposium presentation and potential publication. Ten undergraduates will be selected through a competitive application process for a ten-week research program at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. Students will live immersed in a rich academic community of researchers conducting novel tropical research and will attend workshops on field skills, current research in tropical biology, international research ethics, statistics, and scientific written and oral communication. Participants also have access to the social, cultural, and recreational activities surrounding La Selva.
- Ten weeks of field study at a premier biological station in a diverse tropical rainforest
- Experienced scientific mentors to guide you through independent research
- Cultural exchanges with local and international researchers and students
Competitive applicants will have a strong background in biology (demonstrated by 2 semesters of upper-level biology or other experiences as noted in the application essay). They will have a demonstrated interest in field ecology. An introductory knowledge of Spanish will be helpful but is not mandatory. Prior field experience is not a prerequisite.
Why work at La Selva Biological Station?
La Selva is one of the most important sites in the world for research in tropical biology. Owned and operated by OTS, it is visited annually by over 1500 scientists from 200 institutions and 20 countries, as well as by over 200 educational groups. Research at La Selva covers diverse areas, ranging from genetic to organismal to ecosystem level biology. These studies have led to the publication of more than 4,000 scientific articles, theses, and books. Two-thirds of the La Selva property (1,536 ha) houses species rich old-growth forest, while the remainder is abandoned pastures and plantations in various stages of secondary succession or experimental usage. An extensive trail system provides access to a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The entire property has been topographically surveyed and spatially referenced data are managed via GIS. Two well-equipped laboratories, including a large analytical lab, offer air-conditioned work space, common-use equipment, and wireless internet.
Who can apply?
The program is open to undergraduate U.S. citizens and permanent residents enrolled in accredited institutions in the United States who have taken at least 2 semesters of upper-level biology (beyond introductory courses) or can explain in an essay how they are sufficiently qualified to conduct independent research in field ecology. Graduating seniors are not eligible.
What does the REU award cover?
The OTS REU award covers the cost of room and board as well as international travel to and from Costa Rica. Participants will also receive a stipend of $4500 for their 10 weeks of work on their research.
What is the application deadline?
For the 2014 summer program the application deadline has been extended to February 9, 2014. To be considered for admission, complete application materials must be received by this deadline. To apply, students must complete the application via the "Apply Now!" link on this webpage, which includes letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts, and a statement of research interests.
Applicants should plan to send an official transcript later if the program funding is renewed and they are accepted to the program. Notification of acceptance, pending renewed funding from NSF, is anticipated for late February or early March. Applicants should indicate in their statement of research interests what topics they are particularly interested to study so that they can later be matched to a suitable mentor when the mentor list becomes available. Applicants can refer to the 2013 Mentors and Projects list for an idea of the types of projects that might be available in 2014 (some mentors are likely to return if the program's funding is renewed).
What are the program dates?
The summer 2014 program will take place from June 8 to August 15, pending renewed funding.
What have previous REU participants said about the program?
“I got the chance to do exactly what I came here to do: research in a tropical rainforest in a place with incredibly knowledgeable people.”
“Getting to work independently on a research project provided incredible insight into what graduate school will be like, and getting to do it in the rainforest was the ultimate coolest thing ever.”
“I loved the possibility to interact with students from a different culture and to be able to live like a real researcher.”
“My mentor works hard and is easily approachable. He is down to earth, while teaching me all about the world of spider research. He reflects what I believe a mentor could and should be.”
Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS)
Box 90633, Durham, NC 27708-0633
Telephone: (919) 684-5774
Fax (919) 684-5661