The National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences as a new site of its nation-wide Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program. Designed as a ten-week immersion in direct research, the program will pair students with senior investigators at the laboratory. NSF has awarded $258,685 to Bigelow Laboratory to develop, launch, and implement the program for the next three years. (11/02/2008)
WEST BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences as a new site of its nation-wide Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program. The Program supports active research participation by undergraduates in research projects funded by NSF and other agencies. Scientists at Bigelow Laboratory have received major research support from NSF for decades, with over $4.9 million in research grants awarded in just the past six months.
NSF’s goal for the REU Program is to expand student participation in current research and attract a diversified pool of talented students into careers in science. NSF has awarded $258,685 to Bigelow Laboratory to develop, launch, and implement the program for the next three years.
Senior Research Scientists Drs. Rick Wahle and David Fields are co-directors of the new program, known as “REU Site: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences —Undergraduate Research Experience in the Gulf of Maine and the World Ocean.” It will be designed as a ten-week immersion in direct research, and will pair students with senior investigators at the lab who will serve as mentors to guide them through the entire process of undertaking an independent research project, from writing a research proposal to presenting data in a written and oral format. In 2009, the program is scheduled to run between June 1 and August 15.
“Bigelow Laboratory has a strong commitment to education and outreach, with a track record of engaging students from high school onward,” said Fields. “The Laboratory facility, its staff, and proximity to the ocean provide an ideal setting for students at all levels to be fully immersed in doing ocean science.”
“One of the benefits of an REU Site is that it brings together a critical mass of students from different universities -- each with different educational backgrounds -- to interact with faculty mentors,” Wahle said. “By handling the students both as a cohort and as individuals, we foster the benefit of group learning experiences, as well as one-on-one interaction between student and mentor. As a group, students will learn the fundamentals of the scientific process, including workshops on how to form testable hypotheses, critically evaluate data, and present information in a scientific manner.”
“Although our program will be open to applicants from around the country, one of our primary recruitment goals for our REU program is to attract underrepresented students such as Native Americans to participate in ocean science research,” Fields continued. “We specifically target Native American students because they are often skipped over by educational opportunities such as REU because of cultural and economic factors.”
Additional details about the Bigelow REU Program, including application materials, will be available on the Laboratory’s website (www.bigelow.org) in early 2009.
Established in 1974, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a center for global ocean research. The laboratory’s research focus ranges from microbial oceanography -- examining biological productivity in the world’s oceans at the molecular level -- to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive interactions between ocean ecosystems and global environmental conditions. An independent, nonprofit research institution, the Laboratory is supported by federal research grants and private funds. Research topics at Bigelow Laboratory include the marine microbial web (from viruses to secondary producers); biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur; optical oceanography, remote sensing; sensory biology; climate change; and fisheries oceanography. These projects have taken Bigelow scientists around the world to every ocean and the polar seas.
Photo: As part of their REU project, students will have opportunities to scuba dive, participate in ocean cruises, or sample directly from the Bigelow Pier.