OGDEN, Utah – A grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will help 10 college students from across the country conduct research at Weber State University this summer.
The NSF has awarded WSU more than $146,000 to support undergraduate research opportunities in and around the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. The funds will provide a total of 20 research positions over the course of this summer and next. Each student will receive a stipend of $3,250, along with $700 to cover research expenses. In addition, some money will be allocated to pay for students to travel to national research conferences to report their findings.
WSU zoology professors John Cavitt and Ron Meyers are co-directors of the program. They have spent the last few summers supporting similar experiences for WSU students, which served as a pilot program for the NSF grant.
Applicants had to submit transcripts, two letters of reference and an essay on why they were interested in the program. Cavitt and Meyers have received more than 25 applications, some from as far away as New England, Texas and California. The NSF grant asks that special consideration be given to African American, Hispanic or Native American applicants because those groups are underrepresented in science disciplines. Three out of the 10 researchers selected each summer may be WSU students.
The students will spend 10 weeks at WSU pursuing their research interests related to the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. This summer's session will begin May 24.
"They'll be conducting master's level research in a short period of time," Cavitt said. Due to the limited time period, Meyers said students will be encouraged to discuss possible research projects with WSU faculty mentors in advance of their arrival, so they can immerse themselves in their project as quickly as possible.
In addition to the research, the program also offers courses and workshops on the fundamentals of scientific research. Students will have a weekly class on research ethics taught by WSU assistant philosophy professor Richard Greene. Guest lecturers will present a weekly workshop on the Salt Lake ecosystem while another workshop will help students hone research techniques, including how to conduct experiments, perform statistical analysis and present findings at conferences and in publications.
The students also will take field trips to different parts of the ecosystem so they have a greater appreciation for how the lake is connected to the surrounding topography.
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