Program Options & Courses

REU, Independent Research, and Research Interns

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) plans to offer the Undergraduate Education Program, including awarding REU’s and scholarships, in 2021The program dates are June 9-August 17, 2021 (10-weeks). In 2020, the summer program was a successful hybrid of local, on-site, and off-site students, with a similar mix of on-site and off-site scientist mentorsRMBL anticipates accommodating most students and mentors on-site in 2021, as allowable by COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Although there is some uncertainty about how we will administer the program in 2021, we can describe how we ran the program in summer 2020In April 2020, accepted students agreed to a hybrid program composed of collaborative teams of onsite and offsite students and mentors, pivoting to on-site research opportunities for remote students as travel and housing allowed. In late May, scientist mentors and enrolled students were notified that on-site housing at RMBL would be available at reduced density per the COVID-19 safety plan. RMBL offered the limited housing to students for either the first 5 or the second 5 weeks of the program, or for the full 10 weeks. Students and/or their scientist mentors could also elect to complete the program remotely. By mid-June, all students who wanted to travel to RMBL and stay in lab housing, and who agreed to follow all the RMBL COVID-19 protocols, were accommodated on-site.  We expect that flexibility will again be the rule for 2021, with a hybrid model to allow for both onsite and remote opportunities for student research and the use of on-line options for many previously in-person program activities (workshops, panels, & seminars).

Our program has two tracks which differ in the degree of initial independence students experience when learning about and conducting field research. We encourage students of all backgrounds and with varying levels of experience to apply to each of the tracks. We review applications, choose a group of students that comprises a diverse mix, and place students in the program that best fits their experience and expectations. Approximately twenty students will be in each independent research track.  Both programs run concurrently during the ten-week session from June 9 -August 17, 2021.  Some students may be asked to arrive earlier or stay later if necessary for their particular project; start and end dates are flexible. However, students are expected to participate in the education program for 10 weeks, regardless of start date. The assumption is that the majority of students will reside onsite or locally off-site, if they have a home in the county. Students with special circumstances may inquire with the Science Director about the possibility of participating in the program partly or entirely remotely.

Full-time Independent Research  (with Senior Thesis Option) – 10 credits.
This program targets students who wish to conduct a full-time independent research project in field biology. Applicants may be currently enrolled in an undergraduate program, graduates of an undergraduate program, or may be early in their graduate career. Students conduct independent research under the supervision of RMBL scientists. During the summer, students will work with their mentors to develop a testable hypothesis, gather data, analyze the data, and produce a written and oral report by the end of the program. They will work approximately 40 hours a week on their projects, in addition to attending biweekly discussions or workshops and a weekly seminar series. Students wishing to turn their research into a senior thesis should contact the Research and Education Manager to help coordinate with their home institution.

Field Ecology Students on Avery - photo by Kailen Mooney
Students on Avery Mountain – photo by Kailen Mooney

Independent Research and Course – 8 credits for independent research and 2 credits for the course.
This program targets students who are relatively new to field biology and who wish to combine independent research with a short course in either 1) Rocky Mountain Ecosystems or 2) Research Training in Wildlife Biology. For the first 4 weeks of the program students take the course for two days/week and conduct their independent research project for 3 days/week.  For the last six weeks, they only conduct their independent research.  Students conduct independent research under the supervision of RMBL scientist mentors. During the summer, students will work with their mentors to develop a testable hypothesis, gather data, analyze the data, and produce a written and oral report by the end of the program. They will work approximately 40 hours a week on their courses and projects, in addition to attending biweekly discussions or workshops and a weekly seminar series.  Under certain circumstances this research can become a senior thesis at the home institution of a student. Students wishing to turn their research into a senior thesis should contact the Research and Education Manager to help coordinate with their home institution.

Courses offered during summer 2021:

  1. Rocky Mountain Ecosystems
  2. Research Training in Wildlife Biology

REU Awards
This summer, 10 students will be accepted with REU Awards.  Students receiving an REU award may participate in either full-time independent research or independent research/course, as described above. Students accepted through the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program receive a $5,750 stipend, free room, board and travel. REU awards are restricted to students who are not only citizens or permanent residents of the United States, but also have not graduated from college before the dates of the program.  Minorities underrepresented in the biological sciences are strongly encouraged to apply.

Mentors: A LIST OF POTENTIAL 2020 MENTORS AND PROJECTS IS POSTED HERE (last updated 2.8.20). An updated mentor list for 2021 will be posted by Dec. 1, 2020.