Research Coordination Network Project:
Establishing an ecological research/education network at primarily undergraduate institutions.
In May 2010, our group was awarded a $495,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Research Coordination Networks (in Undergraduate Biology Education) program for this five year project. The impetus behind this project was the growing focus on research among faculty from primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) along with the recognition that many of the most pressing questions in ecology and environmental science are best addressed using multiple sites and coordinated data collection. We argue that greater collaboration among PUIs will allow these data to make more meaningful scientific contributions. Short-term projects can be linked to similar or related work at other institutions, thus extending questions across space rather than time.
- Developing collaborative research projects among PUIs at regional to continental scales, paying special attention to the constraints of scientists with significant teaching responsibilities
- Designing those projects to achieve maximize student engagement in authentic science while still maintaining a goal of generating transformative, publication quality data
- Creating a continental-scale ecology course module that will be team-taught by scientist-educators distributed across different PUIs using data from our collaborative projects as a centerpiece
- Enhancing the role of PUI scientists and their students in existing and emerging ecological research networks, such as the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)
- Creating an online database of future and existing data sets collected from the network of PUIs.