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REU Site: Disturbance Ecology in Central Appalachia: Eastern Kentucky University

David Brown

[email protected]

This REU Site award to Eastern Kentucky University, located in Richmond, KY, will support the training of 10 students for 10 weeks, during the summers of 2020-2022. Students will be based in Richmond, KY and will conduct research at remote Appalachian field stations. It is anticipated that a total of 30 students, primarily from schools with limited research opportunities or who are from underrepresented backgrounds, will be trained in the program. Students will learn how research is conducted, and many will present the results of their work at scientific conferences. Research findings are intended to will help shape resource management in a way that would bring socioeconomic benefits to the region. Assessment of the program will be done thru the online SALG URSSA tool. Students will be tracked after the program in order to determine their career paths.<br/><br/>Students in this program use ecological and geographic information systems (GIS) techniques to explore the implications of disturbance and climate change in a region of high biodiversity. Students work directly with faculty mentors and collaborators, including agency professionals, and participate in all aspects of research. Students and mentors work in aquatic and terrestrial habitats studying plant and animal populations at watershed and regional-scales and use field-based data collection along with GIS-based techniques. Students gain natural history and land navigation experience, and other aspects of field work essential to ecological research. Team activities ensure a dynamic cohort who explore nature and develop skills, including ethics, leadership, cultural sensitivity, and career development. Students engage with their community and develop communication skills with scientists and the public, while exploring the implications of their own research in a setting rife with controversy related to the economic and cultural trade-offs of resource extraction, climate change, and environmental conservation. More information about the program is available by visiting https://bioreu.eku.edu/, or by contacting the PI (Dr. David Brown at [email protected]) or the co-PI (Dr. Kelly Watson at [email protected]).<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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