Summer 2015: June 11-August 6, 2015
With funding from the National Science Foundation, the OTS NAPIRE program provides a unique, intensive opportunity for field research to undergraduate students from Pacific Islands, Hawaii, Alaska and mainland USA. The NAPIRE Program is designed to introduce Native American and Pacific Islander undergraduate students to the biodiversity of the tropics.
The NAPIRE program introduces undergraduate students to scientific research by making them responsible for completing a research project. Students are supported to this end by giving them their basic living needs (travel, room and board), guidance by a Research Mentor, Home Mentor and OTS staff, a small budget for supplies, and a venue for presenting the Research results, the NAPIRE Symposium. All this takes place in Costa Rica, in the beautifully conserved biological stations of OTS.
As part of the program, students will complete a field project, including experimental design, data gathering, and analysis and presentation of results, in collaboration with fellow students and a research mentor. Students will experience the process of applying the scientific method to ecological inquiry and discovery in a collaborative and team-oriented environment. In addition to completing a research project, students will participate in lectures, seminars and field activities that focus on tropical ecology and conservation. Participants will also have the opportunity to interact with indigenous groups of Central America, allowing a first-hand look at the role of Native People in tropical forest conservation. Each student will be assigned a Research Mentor who will assist them with their independent project as well as provide support throughout the research experience. Two faculty coordinators and a teaching assistant will lead the program, which will be primarily based at Las Cruces Biological Station, with visits to other sites in Costa Rica.
Why work at Las Cruces Biological Station?
A mid-elevation site located near the border between Panama and Costa Rica, Las Cruces provides excellent opportunities for research in fragmentation biology and restoration ecology. Extending through an elevational range of 1,120 to 1,385 meters, Las Cruces encompasses 235 hectares of premontane rain forest. The grounds surrounding the buildings have 8 hectares of cultivated collections and 4 hectares of fallow and experimental plots. A further 30 hectares of land, known as Melisa's Meadow, was a large pasture that was recently restored to young secondary forest using a variety of restoration treatments. The region has been undergoing conversion to coffee plantations since the mid-50s, resulting in extensive patches of forest fragments running along the ridges and bordering streams, including a patchwork of forest remnants extending from Las Cruces along the Paraguas Ridge to the Guaymi Indian Reservation, some 15 kilometers away. Courses and researchers working out of the Station can take advantage of these ready-made experimental sites for studies in conservation biology. An onsite GIS laboratory can provide regional geographic data as well as aerial and landsat images over the last 40 years.
The station serves as the principal center in the region for teaching, research, and on-site public education. The Wilson Hall comfortably accommodates course groups with sleeping and study quarters, and a new dining room situated a short distance away can serve three meals a day to 80 or more persons. Spacious lab space is outfitted with basic equipment, including dissecting and compound microscopes, balances, centrifuges, plant and soil drying ovens, and a leaf-area meter.
What are the program prerequisites?
The NAPIRE Program is open to biology majors and other students interested in environmental issues and field ecology. Native American; Alaskan Natives and Pacific Islander students are strongly encouraged to apply. As part of the application process, students will indicate the types of organisms they are willing and/or prefer to work and the type of research you might like to do. Students can also indicate their preference for research-mentors from the Mentor List. Please visit the Mentor List to find out which researchers and what projects are available. Students must also identify an on-campus mentor at their home institution that will support their preparation for the program and assist them in incorporating their research experience into the rest of their academic career after their return from Costa Rica.
Who can apply?
U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents who are undergraduate students enrolled in accredited institutions in the United States may apply to the program. Incoming freshmen and graduating seniors are not eligible.
Students must attend LSAMP institutions. LSAMP is the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, a National Science Foundation (NSF) program that was designed to foster achievement in minority students seeking degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The goal has been to increase the number of minority students who pursue STEM majors; as well as to increase the number who complete baccalaureate and doctoral in STEM degrees. A list of LSAMP schools can be found at the NSF- LSAMP website, or contact us. To apply, students must complete the NAPIRE application, including 2 letters of recommendation (one from your designated on-campus mentor), official transcripts from universities attended, and a statement of research interests.
What does the award cover?
The NAPIRE award covers the cost of room, board and travel to and from Costa Rica. Students also receive funds to help cover costs of field equipment and a $4000 stipend.
What are the program dates?
The program begins on June 11 and ends on August 6, 2015. Students will be in residence at Las Cruces Biological Station during six of the eight-week research experience, with some travel to other sites included.
For the 2014 Summer Program, the application deadline is February 15, 2015. All completed applications from qualified students received by this date will be considered for the program. Applications completed by qualified students and received after February 28 will be considered as space in the program allows. All applicants must send an official hard copy of their transcript, but can send a duplicate electronic version to complete the deadline.
The application materials will include academic transcripts, a written statement of research interests, and two letters of recommendation, including one from a department faculty member who is willing to serve as on-campus mentor for the applicant. The on-campus mentor should be designated by the student at the time of application. This person will serve as a the primary contact for the student and is expected to provide support for student throughout the program, including application and selection, preparation for study abroad, and processing of the experience upon return home.
NAPIRE research-mentors will live on the OTS Las Cruces Biological Station where whey will provide personal, direct guidance for 1 to 3 undergraduate students in ecological field research at the station. This includes hands-on participation in helping students develop an answerable research question, appropriate research design, data collection methods, statistical analysis of the results, and write the scientific paper and presentation of the research. In addition, research- mentors will also participate in symposium, evaluations and ethics discussions.
The Home Mentor is asked to support their student during the summer and after the student returns in the fall. Some students will attend a different institution after their participation in NAPIRE (students must be enrolled as undergraduate before and after their participation in NAPIRE), and in those cases the Home Mentor will support the student over the summer only. During the summer, Home Mentors can stay connected with the student as their time permits, reviewing proposals and other assignments as well as tuning in to the final symposium which will be broadcast via internet from Costa Rica. Home Mentors will be contacted by OTS staff if any special needs arise during the summer. In the fall, Home Mentors should help the student to integrate their experience into their career track, especially by guiding the student to present their work in on campus venues and elsewhere. Home Mentors do not need to be academic professors, but should have some institutional standing. Home mentors do not need to guide scientific research (students will have a Research Mentor in Costa Rica for that), but might be called upon to provide emotional support and encouragement depending on their student's specific needs.
Because the involvement of the Home Mentor is such an important part of the NAPIRE experience, we wish to highlight some of the steps a NAPIRE Home Mentor should consider while mentoring their student:
- Orient the student to expectations of them as NAPIRE interns (Code of Conduct, deliverables, etc.)
- Guide and facilitate student to complete application and acceptance forms
- Help student connect with the on campus LSAMP coordinator to get certification letter for application
- Communicate with Research Mentors and Coordinators to maximize students retention and development, This can include student’s experiences and background, learning styles, personal characteristics.
- Upon student’s acceptance, discuss with them the background information assigned;
- Attend NAPIRE Mentor Workshop ( April 10-17) in Costa Rica ( recommended but optional).
- Receive copies of proposal and final scientific report produced by students
- View, via internet, the student’s final oral presentation (recommended but optional)
- Upon student’s completion of NAPIRE, Home Mentors are crucial to strengthening student integration of their experience into their career goals
- Promote student’s presentation of their research results at local or national meetings
As a NAPIRE Home Mentor, you will be invited to an expenses-paid orientation and communication workshop at the biological stations of the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica in early April. Aside from demonstrating the living and working conditions of the NAPIRE program, the visit will allow us to establish communication between the four parts of the NAPIRE experience: the student, the Research Mentor, the OTS staff, and you the Home Mentor. A Home Mentor's availability to participate in the workshop will NOT influence the acceptance of any student.
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