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Summer Research for Undergraduates School of the Environment at WSU Vancouver

Summer research for undergraduates

Researchers in the field

Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Columbia River Basin: Integrating Terrestrial and Aquatic Perspectives

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Offered through the School of the Environment at WSU Vancouver.

We will not be offering our REU program in Summer 2020.  Please check back next year, as we hope to resume the program for Summer 2021.

Welcome! Our summer program engaged current undergraduates from around the Vancouver, Washington/Portland, Oregon region in high-quality research in the Columbia River Basin. Students studied both aquatic and terrestrial habitats to examine how biotic and abiotic drivers influence ecosystem dynamics across the aquatic-terrestrial gradient in this dynamic, and iconic, landscape.

This ten-week summer research experience took place at Washington State University Vancouver on our beautiful 350-acre Salmon Creek campus, approximately 5 miles from downtown Vancouver and 15 miles from downtown Portland.

We offered a $5,000 summer stipend, plus commuting and meal expenses, and participation in several two-day field trips to locations across the Columbia River Basin.

This opportunity was supported by a grant from the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the National Science Foundation.


Conduct independent research with world-class research faculty

Spend your summer working side by side with a research mentor, a WSU Vancouver faculty member in the School of the Environment; engaging in an independent research project related to their expertise; and focusing on aquatic or terrestrial ecosystems in the Columbia River Basin. Our project includes multiple research areas that range from aquatic food web dynamics in Columbia River floodplain lakes to disturbance ecology on Mount St. Helens to biogeochemical processes that transform nutrients in watersheds of the Columbia River to quantitative modeling of avian fatalities associated with wind facilities.

Each undergraduate participant will develop a research question and approach with their research mentor, then over nine weeks engage in field and/or laboratory data collection, analysis and interpretation as part of a team of researchers working with that faculty member. The summer will culminate in a poster symposium on the WSU Vancouver campus where each summer student will present their findings.

Build skills that lead to future opportunities

This experience is designed to help you improve your skills in scientific inquiry methods and communication, under the direction and mentorship of faculty with national and international prominence in their fields. We aim to build collaborations and team-building among researchers, including undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and technicians.

In addition, we seek to provide meaningful learning, professional development and social opportunities that prepare you for continued success in college and beyond. All summer research students will take part in a weekly seminar to discuss various topics of ecosystem and landscape ecology, to build skills in scientific inquiry and communication, and to build a strong cohort of like-minded peers. The student group will also participate in two field trips of two or three days each—one to the lower Columbia River Basin in western Washington, and the other to the upper Basin in eastern Washington. We will also provide evening social activities open to all students and their families on campus and at other popular destinations in the area.

Interested? Please apply!

If this summer research opportunity interests you, please explore this website. If you have questions or want more information, contact Dr. Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens.