NSF LSAMP REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) for U.S. Underrepresented
Minority Students Summer Program in Costa Rica
(African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Alaskan Natives, Pacific Islanders)
With funding from the National Science Foundation’s LSAMP Program, OTS offers a research experience for students from NSF LSAMP Alliance member institutions. Students selected for the program will live at La Selva Research Station or Las Cruces Research Station for their eight-week program. From this program, you can expect to gain the following: 1) research skills in the field, 2) communication skills through training in scientific writing, oral presentations, science blogging, and videography, and 3) exposure to the landscape and cultural surrounding the research stations, including environmental topics such as biodiversity conservation and agroecology.
La Selva Research Station and Las Cruces Research Station provide undergraduate students with unparalleled access to tropical forest ecosystems, mentoring by experienced tropical ecology researchers, and training in field research methodology. Each student will work with an on-station (field) mentor as well as an on-campus (home) mentor from his/her home institution to ensure the integration of the summer research experience into students’ academic careers.
Please read the “Curriculum” (program description) and the “Prerequisites” (who can apply) tabs carefully. In the “Mentors” tab you can find the complete list of mentors and projects for 2019.
Curriculum & Schedule
Students from diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds will complete an independent research project in the field, from the project planning stage through to symposium presentation and potential publication. Undergraduates will be selected through a competitive application process for an eight-week research program at La Selva Research Station or Las Cruces Research Station in Costa Rica. Students will live immersed in a rich academic community of researchers conducting novel tropical research and will attend workshops on field skills, current research in tropical biology, international research ethics, statistics, and scientific written and oral communication. Participants will also be exposed to environmental, social, and cultural issues surrounding the Station.
Prior to arriving in Costa Rica, selected students and their assigned mentors must communicate effectively via email and internet calling platforms to prepare for the program. Under the guidance of their mentor, students will write a brief research proposal and prepare an oral presentation before coming to Costa Rica. The team will also need to complete all research permit paperwork and arrange for equipment and supplies.
- Students arrive to Costa Rica and to the Research Station. They will receive introductory lectures and will have workshops to refresh or adjust scientific skills. They will get to know their environment and decide on study sites.
- Student and mentor mixers also happen during this first week.
- The introductory week ends with a proposal symposium, where all the students present their ideas for their summer research projects.
- Students collect data for their projects.
- In addition, cultural exchanges and field trips occur during this period.
- Students finish their data collection and focus on analyzing their results. They produce their final papers and their presentations.
- The program ends with a research symposium where all students present the results of their projects.
- Students will then spend a last night in San José, the capital city, where they will share a Closing Dinner and then will return to their homes.
- September 21: Call for mentors
- October 21: Mentor application deadline
- November 5: Mentors announced
- November 15: Student applications open
- February 7: Student application deadline
- March 8: Student selections announced
- June 3: Program starts at Las Cruces Research Station (students arrive in Costa Rica)
- June 10: Program starts at La Selva Research Station (students arrive in Costa Rica)
- July 30: Program ends at Las Cruces Research Station (students fly to the U.S)
- August 6: Program ends at La Selva Research Station (students fly to the U.S)
*Exact dates, except arrival and departure, subject to change.
La Selva NSF LSAMP REU Orientation Packet
Las Cruces NSF LSAMP REU Orientation Packet
La Selva mentors and projects 2019
Las Cruces mentors and projects 2019
Costa Rica Map
Prerequisites (Who Can Apply)
The NSF LSAMP REU program (La Selva and Las Cruces) is open to undergraduate students who are (1) U.S. citizens or permanent residents, (2) members of underrepresented minority groups in the sciences (African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders), and (3) enrolled in an NSF LSAMP program. Graduating seniors (May or August 2020) are not eligible. You can verify if your institution is an NSF LSAMP member.
The OTS NSF LSAMP REU award covers the cost of room and board as well as international travel to and from Costa Rica. Participants will receive a stipend of $550/week for their 8 weeks of work on their research. The stipend will be received in 2 payments, one at the end of the 4th week and one at the end of the program.
Carissa Ganong, Ph.D.
Ph.D. University of Georgia
La Selva Coordinator
Dr. Ganong is an aquatic ecologist/invertebrate zoologist/tropical biologist with a strong interest in anthropogenic impacts on aquatic systems. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia with dissertation work examining the effects of precipitation regime on stream pH and stream macroinvertebrates at La Selva Research Station. She taught at Northern Michigan University as a visiting professor and is currently an assistant professor of biology at Missouri Western State University. She has coordinated the summer NSF-OTS La Selva REU program since 2014.
Scott T. Walter, Ph.D.
Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Las Cruces Coordinator
Dr. Walter is extremely pleased to continue coordinating the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation REU program with OTS. Having traveled far and wide around the world, he is most strongly drawn to the wondrous biodiversity found within the Neotropical ecosystems of Latin America. Within the U.S., he has studied cavity-nesting birds in the Pacific Northwest (M.S.), forest ecology in the Appalachian Mountains (U.S. Forest Service), and seabirds along the northern Gulf coast (Ph.D.). He has also studied rainforest frogs in Australia, worked with natural resource management in Guatemala, studied tropical biology in Costa Rica through OTS, managed a biodiversity research team in Ecuador, and taught a tropical avian ecology course in Panama. He has taught undergraduate courses in environmental studies, wildlife ecology, and field studies for many years, and currently teaches at Texas State University. In general, he is interested in learning about virtually all aspects of life, but he is particularly fond of spending time in nature, playing traditional music, and woodworking with hand tools. He has lived, studied, and worked in Latin America for over 5 years and is very excited to return for the 2019 field program! Pura vida!
La Selva REU Mentors 2020
To be announced
Las Cruces REU Mentors 2020
To be announced
Housing & Meals
June through August is the busiest period of the year at OTS research stations, and they are likely to be near capacity during the REU program. La Selva and Las Cruces have many researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, coming from all over the world who stay for all or part of the summer to work or study. This means you will have the opportunity to get to know many researchers and learn about their work; it also means that living conditions will be somewhat crowded. It is very likely that you will be sharing a room with one or more other students in the REU program. You will be part of a diverse group of students and researchers, representing many different opinions and lifestyles. For this reason, it is important to be tolerant, respectful, honest, cooperative, and, above all, have a good sense of humor!
Health & Safety
OTS is deeply committed to student safety and well-being and does not expose students to unnecessary danger or risk. OTS monitors national and international events that might affect our students. Five decades of risk assessment, emergency response, and crisis resolution have enabled OTS to maximize student safety and security. All students participate in an on-site orientation program upon arrival in Costa Rica.
Passport & Visa Information
You must have a valid passport to travel to Costa Rica. It is important that the passport does not expire within 6 months of entering Costa Rica. U.S. citizens entering Costa Rica are automatically granted a 90-day tourist visa. If you are NOT a citizen of a North American or European country, you will probably need a special visa to enter Costa Rica. We recommend that you contact your respective consulate or embassy services to determine if you need a visa to travel to Costa Rica. It is important to take into account the requirements to get a visa approved before you apply for the REU program. Please keep in mind that visa application processes can take several months depending on the country of issue. If you are accepted, we will provide any information necessary (within reason) to help with the visa application. For more information on this topic please visit http://www.migracion.go.cr/extranjeros/visas.html.
- Segre and Taylor 2019
- Wilde, L et.al. 2018
- Kaiser, K et.al. 2018
- Rivera & Folt 2018
- Araya-Salas, Gonzalez-Gomez et.al. 2018
- Cove et.al. 2017
- Williamson and Fagan 2017
- Gunther, L. et.al. 2016
- Brusch IV et.al. 2015
- Baldwin and Whitehead 2014
- Paluh, Hantak, and Saporito 2013
- Johnson, Welch and Whitfield 2013
- Folt and Reider 2013
- Seas-Carvajal & Avalos 2013
- Vargas and Cordero 2013
- McGlynn, Alonso-Rodriguez and Weaver 2013
- DiRenzo & Stynoski 2012
- Jimenez & Bolaños 2012
- Palow, Nolting and Kitajima 2012
- Small, Torres, Schweizer, Duff and Pringle 2012
- Yanoviak, Silveri, Hamm and Solis 2012
- Califano & Chaves-Campos 2011
- Golcher & Quesada 2011
- Maccachero 2011
- Soley & Alvarado-Díaz 2011
- Vargas, Sanchez and Avalos. 2011
- Avalos & Fernández Otárola 2010
- Clay, Bauer, Solis and Yanoviak 2010
- Eaton & Giles 2010
- Strauss, von Helversen and Knornschild 2010
- Araya-Ajoy, Chaves-Campos, Kalko and DeWoody 2009
- Knornschild, Harview, Moseley and von Helversen 2009
- Lumpkin & Boyle 2009
- Boyle, Ganong, Clarak and Hast 2008
- Butler, Montagnini and Arroyo 2008
- Schlawin & Zahawi 2008
- Vidal-Riggs & Chaves-Campos 2008
- Gei 2007
- Saporito, Zuercher, Roberts, Gerow and Donnelly 2007
- Timm & Losilla 2007
- Zamora & Montagnini 2007
- Hodson & Gastreich 2006
- Palomaki, Chazdon, Arroyo and Letcher 2006
- Alice, Montagnini and Montero 2004
- Dyer, Letourneau, Dodson, Tobler, Stireman III and Hsu 2004
- Hilje 2004
- Mascaro, Schnitzer and Carson 2004