REU Program in Costa RicaOTS Undergraduate Brochure ( 2.2 mb )
Summer 2013: June 16 – August 9
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 of over 50 universities and research institutions from the United States, Costa Rica, Australia, México, Perú and South Africa. Since 1963, OTS has provided leadership in education, research, and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics. OTS is committed to increasing the participation of women, ethnic minorities, and economically disadvantaged students underrepresented in the discipline. As part of this effort, OTS and the National Science Foundation offer a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program in Costa Rica that provides hands-on, field-oriented research experiences to undergraduate students from the United States and Costa Rica.
Students from diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds will complete an independent research project in the field with an experienced tropical ecologist, from the project planning stage through to symposium presentation and potential publication. Ten undergraduates will be selected through a competitive application process for an eight-week research program at the world-renowned La Selva Biological Station in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica. The program provides students with a first-hand look at the challenges and rewards of tropical field ecology. Students will live immersed in a rich academic community of researchers conducting novel tropical research, and they 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 of rural communities surrounding La Selva. Former participants of the OTS REU program are now pursuing successful careers in the biological sciences, including field ecology and tropical medicine.
- Eight 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 Costa Rican and international students and researchers
OTS hopes to offer this opportunity to students from a broad range of backgrounds. Competitive applicants will have a strong background in biology and a demonstrated interest in field ecology. An introductory knowledge of Spanish will be helpful but is not mandatory. Prior field experience is not a requisite for admission. As part of the application process, students must designate the mentors with whom they wish to work. It is recommended that they also contact those mentors to confirm that they share similar research interests. Projects in previous years have investigated the ecology and conservation of various organisms and their ecosystems, such as GIS mapping of regenerating forests, behavioral ecology of understory insectivorous birds, and pesticide and climate effects on declining amphibians.
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 1,500 scientists from 200 institutions and 20 countries, as well as by over 200 education groups. Research at La Selva covers diverse areas, ranging from organismal to ecosystem level biology. These studies have led to the publication of more than 3,000 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 to a high degree of accuracy, and spatially referenced data are managed on the Geographic Information System (GIS). Two well-equipped laboratories, including a large analytical lab, offer air-conditioned work space, common-use equipment, and wireless internet connections.
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). Graduating seniors are not eligible.
What does the REU award cover?
The OTS REU award covers the cost of room and board and international travel to and from Costa Rica. Participants will also receive a generous stipend of $3600 for their 8 weeks of research.
For the 2013 summer program, the application deadline is January 31, 2013. In order to be considered for admission to the program, 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, transcripts, and a statement of research interests.
What are the program dates?
For the summer of 2013, the program will take place from June 16 – August 9, 2012. Students will live at La Selva Biological Station during the entire eight-week research experience.
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