NSF Funded REU-Site Program: Independent Field Research in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at Mountain Lake Biological Station
Mountain Lake Biological Station's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU-Sites) program has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation since 1993 (current NSF award DBI-1461169). The program brings undergraduate students from around the country together for an exciting ten-week summer program of guided, but independent, original research in field biology.
The MLBS REU program provides participants with take home a stipend of $5,500. It also covers all room and board expenses and has a project and travel budget. UVA's "Campers Accidental Coverage" provides limited health insurance coverage.
Participants pay no fees or tuition charges of any kind.
The focus of scientific research at MLBS, and therefore of the REU program, is population biology at the intersection of field-based studies of ecology, evolution, and behavior. Student researchers work closely with researcher mentors in compatible areas of interest. Students take leadership roles in all aspects of the study; they design the study and prepare the proposal, collect data and perform analysis, and finally they interpret the results and prepare a written and oral presentation. Compared to many other REU programs, ours offers a high degree of independence in project choice and design.
Mountain Lake is also special in its exciting, diverse, and friendly academic community. This atmosphere fosters collaboration at all levels, and promotes the constant exchange of ideas with fellow students and scientists. Many projects are submitted for publication in leading biological journals. Students also participate in a weekly seminar about the conduct of biological research. REU participants have access to state-of-the-art facilities and are granted full use of all Station scientific and computer equipment. English is used throughout the program.
Who are the Program Participants?
The program supports ten positions each summer. Applicants should have course experience in fields such as ecology, behavior, and evolution. A letter of recommendation from a teacher or someone who can comment on how you would do at a field station and as an independent researcher is more important than your GPA. Your own essay on the application is of highest importance and gives us insight into your experiences and goals. Participants are chosen for their readiness to take on original creative field-based biological research and for their interest in, and potential for, a career based in science. Most REU students have completed two or three years of their undergraduate degree. Students who have completed only one year are probably better served by taking a course or two at the Station and then returning as an REU in the following year. This is a common, and encouraged, strategy.
The National Science Foundation funds programs like this around the country.