Tuesday, August 5, 2008 - 1:30 PM

COS 38-1: Design and implementation of a university/agency sponsored research and internship program

William J. Quinn, St. Edward's University


St. Edward’s University, in Austin, Texas, serves approximately three thousand five hundred undergraduates in a liberal arts curriculum.  Biology, the largest major in the School of Natural Sciences with nearly 200 majors, requires many students to conduct a supervised research project.  In an attempt to meet the needs of those students, we have partnered with the United States Forest Service to develop a two-year research/internship collaboration for eighteen undergraduates. In this program, students conduct original research under a faculty member for one year and then work in internships in natural resource management with the Forest Service the following summer.  The emphasis of the research component is on the development of analytical skills, experimental design, and research literature familiarization, while the internship is focused on the implementation of policies based upon similar fundamental research. The goal of the program is to enhance student understanding of the process by which we study forested ecosystems, and to improve familiarity with careers in resource management.


Some of the research projects completed so far will be described and the advances our students have realized will be discussed. They range from studies of insect behavior to analyses of interactions among plants in a chaparral community to an assessment of water quality in a local watershed.  The students completing their research have been placed in USFS internships this summer and their success in those internships will be described.  Finally, challenges and opportunities for adaptation of this type of program in other academic environments will be offered.