Pair Power: Developing the Next Generation of Ecologists through Collaboration
Thursday, August 13, 2015: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Anne B. Alerding, Virginia Military Institute
Cameron H. Douglass, Trinity College
The Researchers at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) section supports the interests of an increasingly active group of ecological researchers in the Ecological Society of America. Until recently, undergraduate institutions were focused primarily on teaching excellence and academic advising, with research activities limited to course-related laboratory activities. Changing accreditation standards have placed a stronger emphasis on undergraduate research experiences, driving increased institutional support for such endeavors. To be a successful ecologist anywhere requires creative planning, as time, funding, and manpower are required to conduct meaningful ecological research. However, RUI researchers have to meet the same rigorous science standards in the absence of trained graduate students and at leaner institutions. Being the only ecologist on staff requires novel skills development, and the flexibility to meet research interests of undergraduates. This focus broadens both the education curriculum and makes the researcher’s program more robust. These skills can only be acquired through the combined efforts of each faculty member with his or her research student, who is most often an undergraduate student. This collaborative learning experience introduces the student to analytical and iterative thinking at a formative stage in his or her career. The goal of this session is to highlight the ability of RUI researchers to develop new research skills to test original ecological hypotheses. The power of the faculty-student “pair” is vital to this process. This session will be of general interest to ecologists both for the scientific merit present in the sub-disciplines, and also to showcase successful models of ecological research programs for early career ecologists at undergraduate institutions.