OOS 3-7
A collaboration with the Ecological Research and Education Network: How does it work?

Monday, August 5, 2013: 3:40 PM
101C, Minneapolis Convention Center
Carolyn Lee Thomas, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Ferrum College, Ferrum, VA

 Since 2009 Ecological Research as Education (EREN) has been organizing primarily undergraduate institutions in the pursuit of ecological research that is valid scientific research but also a vehicle to allow undergraduate students to participate in ecological research. The EREN Mission is to create a model for collaborative ecological research that generates high-quality, publishable data involving undergraduate students and faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs).

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental-scale observatory designed to gather and provide ecological data on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. NEON is a project of the National Science Foundation, with many other U.S. agencies and NGOs cooperating.  Undergraduate institutions pay an integral a part of this research.  The NEON Mission is to enable understanding and forecasting of the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on continental-scale ecology – by providing infrastructure and consistent methodologies to support research and education in these areas.

Back in 2009 EREN Founders (15 ecologists) met with the NEON ecologists at an Ecological Society of America to discuss our common goals and similar missions.  Following this meeting we have interacted many times with the NEON scientists and had a meeting in 2011 in Bounder at NEON’s headquarters in Boulder, CO to tour their labs and facilities and to learn about filed and lab methods currently used or will be used in the future. EREN meets 2-3 times a year at different EREN Founders home college or university and most of these meetings include a NEON scientist attending or participating virtually.


The departments of NEON we have interacted with the most include the Science Department and the Education and Public Outreach Department.   Most of our discussions have involved the methods that EREN is using and that NEON may use in the future with the objective to have them as similar as possible so our results can be useful to the NEON project and s that NEON’s results can be useful to our more specific research objectives, such as “the effects of riparian buffers on stream temperatures”.

The other department EREN has worked with is the Education Department especially the “Budburst Program” and their Citizen Science website.  EREN has made suggestions to NEON in regard to their undergraduate ecological education website which will teach the college students about climate change and it’s effects on our ecosystems.