This summer was busy for our summer undergraduate student researchers! Along with working on their own research projects, the students went on field trips, attended the Desert Ecology Short-Course, and participated in multiple data and coding workshops. The projects focused on a wide range of ecological topics, from dryland carbon sequestration to characterizing dryland microbes.
Our summer undergraduate researchers are part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Students travel from all over the country to the Jornada to create and execute their own research projects under a mentor.
This year, the Jornada LTER was able to grow our REU program to 7 students! We had students from near and far, representing New Mexico State University, University of Texas El Paso, Institute of American Indian Arts, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, University of California—Los Angeles, and West Virginia University.
Although many colleges have science majors, it can be hard for an undergraduate student to gain hands-on experience with research before graduation. Some institutions may not have research programs at all, while at some larger institutions it can be rather competitive to earn a position in a lab. Furthermore, undergraduate research positions that include an environmental field component can be even rarer.
Because of these common barriers to research that undergraduates face, the Jornada LTER REU program strives to provide a fully-funded field research experience to students during the summer. Our program is meant to fill the gaps in the undergraduate science curriculum, providing research experience, professional development, and networking opportunities. The application for the Jornada LTER REU program for 2024 will be available in early spring.