Research Immersion in Evolutionary Ecology, 2018

Overview

Summer programs offer students an opportunity to study abroad/away outside of the academic year. All offer credit, however each program is structured differently and planned by individual faculty members.  The second in a two-course series, this 10-week summer research immersion program will allow students to complete research projects of their own design relating to the evolution and ecology of Joshua trees and their associated insects.  This program includes a field trip to the Mojave Desert where students will complete preliminary experiments. The second segment of the course takes place in Salem, Oregon on the WU campus. During June and July students will complete data collection and analysis culminating in the Botanical Society of America's annual meeting where students will get to present a poster describing the results of their summer research.

** RESEARCH IMMERSION IN EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY **

Offered summer 2018.  Future offerings are not planned at this time but will be announced here.

Prerequisites: The research immersion experience begins with a half-semester, spring course (Biology 349 -- the prerequisite course for the summer program) that will meet twice a week in the evenings, and that will culminate in a spring-break field trip to the primary study site in Nevada. Therefore, to participate in the summer program students must enroll in and complete Biology 349, Introduction To Research Immersion during spring semester 2018 AND must be approved for study abroad using the common application, due FALL 2017. Enrollment in the spring course does not guarantee selection for the summer program. Additionally, students who enroll in the spring semester course but do not submit the study abroad application by the Fall 2017 deadline will not be given the chance to participate in the summer 2018 program.

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The second in a two-course series, this 10-week summer research immersion program will allow students to complete research projects of their own design relating to the evolution and ecology of Joshua trees and their associated insects.

This program includes a field trip to the Mojave Desert in late spring, after spring semester classes have ended, where students will complete preliminary experiments. The second segment of the course takes place in Salem, Oregon on the WU campus. During June and July students will complete data collection and analysis, including genotyping, statistical analysis, and greenhouse work. At the end of the summer program, the group will travel to the Botanical Society of America's annual meetings (Rochester, MN), where students will get to present a poster describing the results of their summer research.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

Students applying for this summer program should understand that the program will provide unique physical challenges while in the field. The number one priority during the program is the safety of the participants.

Heat and sun, weather extremes -
The environment at the field site is very dry. Each day all participants are REQUIRED to carry enough water to sustain them for the day -- 2 liters is a minimum. The weather in the upper Mojave can be very unpredictable, particularly in early spring. Warm days (temperatures in the mid 80s) are common, but cold weather (lower 30s) and even snowstorms are not out of the ordinary. Participants need to be prepared for rain, wind, and snow also. High winds are a daily occurrence. Bring sunscreen with a high protection level, sunglasses, and a hat.

Dressing for the conditions -
Dress in layers for morning cold that can be shed in the afternoon as the temperature rises. A light windbreaker that can be worn over a fleece sweatshirt is ideal. Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential. Tennis shoes are acceptable, but durable, light-weight hiking boots are often more comfortable. Joshua trees are famously spiny, so durable long pants and a set of work gloves are also strongly advised.

Hiking with a backpack -
Walking and hiking 3-5 miles each day over moderately hilly, sometimes rocky terrain while carrying a small backpack containing water and essentials for the day. On site, data collection is slow and involves a lot of standing around so there are lots of opportunities for resting and sitting. However, at the start and end of the day participants may need to walk more than two miles at a stretch.

Camping conditions -
The group will be camping during the time at the field site in Nevada. The campsite is 'primitive' and does not have running water or established bathrooms. The program group will prioritize efforts to try to minimize our environmental impact while at the campsite. There will be two portable latrines (ladies and gentlemen) for human waste at the field site. Waste will be taken to landfill at the end of the program. The campsite is at 5500' above sea level and it can be very cold so students will need to be prepared for winter weather. Everyone must have a sleeping bag rated to 15 F (or colder), a sleeping pad, and a three-season (or, ideally, four season) tent. High winds are common at this time of year, so tents should be designed to withstand wind, rain, and snow.

Health insurance -
For the portions of the program in the U.S. (all of the 2018 planned program), participants will need to provide confirmation that their U.S. insurance provides coverage for the activities and locations of the program.

 

PROGRAM SPECIFICS:

Location

Tikaboo Valley, Nevada (nearest municipality is Alamo, Nevada), the WU campus in Salem, Oregon and Rochester, Minnesota (conference at the end) 

Professor

Prof. Chris Smith, Biology Department

Credit

Earn 1.0 WU credits BIOL 355 (W): Research Immersion in Evolutionary Ecology. You must take and complete BIOL 349, Introduction To Research Immersion, during spring semester 2018.

2018 Dates

In 2018, the dates are Monday, May 21, 2018 through Friday, July 27, 2018.  

  • Dates in Nevada: May 21 - June 4 (room and board/meals included)
  • Dates at WU: June 4 - July 21 (NO room and board/meals  provided)
  • Students must also participate in the “Botany 2018” conference in Rochester, Minnesota sponsored by the Botanical Society of America from July 22 - 27. The flight to this conference (round trip from Portland, Oregon) IS included in the program fee paid to WU. (room included but meals are NOT provided)
2018 Costs

Based on a minimum of 5 participants, cost will be $3,554 (includes tuition, campsite and meals in Nevada, room at Botany conference, transportation via vans to and from Nevada, and onsite support).

The following are NOT COVERED in the program cost:

  • For the Salem portion of the summer program, student may live on campus for an additional cost (not covered in the program cost). Students must cover their own meals in Salem, OR and during the Botany 2018 conference travel.
  • Air travel to the Botany 2018 conference (Rochester, Minnesota) is NOT included.  Students will be given specific instructions for booking airfare (estimated at $600) at the first pre-departure meeting in spring 2018.  DO NOT book in advance of receiving these instructions.
  • Textbooks are NOT included in the program cost. Students will be directed about textbooks to buy after selection in the program.
  • Camping sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent and hiking/outdoor gear are not provided nor are they included in the cost. Students should expect to provide or purchase relevant supplies (a sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees, a large durable backpack, rugged hiking boots, a sun hat, warm clothing, gloves, sleeping mat, 3 or 4-season tent) as described in the special conditions. It may be possible to rent some of these items from WU at an additional cost (not covered in the program cost) and the professor may have limited supplies to loan to students (will be discussed during program orientation).

To apply: Use the study abroad application portal. Before starting an application, review what items are part of the application here.

Information Sessions will be announced here.

Are you interested in learning more? Contact oieadvising@willamette.edu (WU Office of International Education) with questions or for more information.