Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

Application and Fellowship Information
(due 7/15/16)




Fellowship notifications will be made by Friday, May 26th.

Please Note: Electronic submission is preferred, if possible, but means of submission will have no impact on evaluation.

Downloadable Application File: 2017-18 EA-IRES Application


EA-IRES: East African International Research Experience for Students

Fellowship Information and Application

The Colorado State University (CSU) EA-IRES Fellowship, hosted by the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL) in the Warner College of Natural Resources and in partnership with University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya, will provide five qualifying Colorado State University sophomores and juniors an opportunity to study dryland social-ecological systems in Colorado and Kenya. This one-year student-driven program begins with two semesters of training in Colorado on the basics of research, drylands and social-ecological systems and the writing of a research proposal, and culminates in a five-week field research experience in East Africa, Summer 2018. Travel and modest living expenses for the field experience will be covered by the fellowship, and fellows will receive an additional $1,400 Fellowship Award. The EA-IRES program will include professional development, as well as cultural and social activities inside and outside the classroom both in Colorado and Africa. This program is funded by the National Science Foundation’s International Research Experience for Students (IRES) program and will follow CSU’s Office of International Programs’ organizational, health and safety protocols.


The goal of the EA-IRES program is to give qualified undergraduate students an opportunity to build their experience and qualifications for conducting independent research. The program is geared toward students who would like to enter into scientific and research-oriented careers or to apply to graduate school once they have completed their undergraduate degrees.


Fellows will register for the SUPER program’s (Skills for Undergraduate Participation in Ecological Research) first class (ESS 220 - 1 credit) and a drylands seminar course (ESS 495 – 1 credit) in Fall 2017. In Spring 2018 they will register for the second semester of SUPER (ESS 221 – 1 credit) and mentored research proposal development (ESS 298 – 2 credits).  In Summer 2018 students will register for at least one credit and optionally up to 5 credits for their field research experience in Africa (ESS 495). ALL EA-IRES program courses are mandatory. The courses provide opportunities to engage in research, and to prepare a research proposal on a topic of social-ecological interest to be investigated in Africa.


The program in Africa will build directly on the fall and spring semesters and will take place in field locations with the assistance of several faculty partners/mentors from UoN. Students will travel as a group, and collaborative work will be encouraged.


Throughout the EA-IRES program, fellows will attend occasional mandatory meetings and possible weekend field trip(s) to build background knowledge and preparation for travel to Africa. It is a rigorous program of preparation that entails writing, repeatedly revising, and carrying out a professional research proposal and plan to meet the high standards (and timelines) of CSU and Kenya’s National Commission on Science and Technology. All fellows will be formally trained in working with human subjects and conducting social science methods. Throughout the program, fellows will be expected to meet strict programmatic deadlines for writing and training and to communicate openly with the program leads. The ultimate goal of this program is to give students a one-of-a-kind, transformational research experience that builds professional skills in preparation for future research and graduate school.


Students will be expected to participate actively with their cohort throughout the program; complete all program academic, writing, training, permitting and research requirements in a timely manner; and follow all health and safety protocols for travel in Africa. Following the conclusion of the field experience in Africa, Students will also be expected to: 1) create a comprehensive database of their research data for archive at CSU; 2) conduct analyses to test their research hypotheses; 3) write a professional-level contribution to a research report to be returned to stakeholders and submitted to NSF; and 4) create and present a professional research poster in Fall 2017 – Spring 2018. Existing EA-IRES fellows have presented at the National Council for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) national conference, the Front Range Student Ecology Symposium (FRSES) at CSU, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (CURC) at CSU, and the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability (ESS) Spring Symposium at CSU. Other venues for presentation are also possible. Participation in the program is contingent on following University and program protocols and meeting program deadlines. Optional research or independent study credits may be taken in Fall 2017 and/or Spring 2018 to get credit for data analysis, oral and poster presentation preparation, report preparation or manuscript preparation.

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must demonstrate that they are:

1) US Citizens or permanent residents,

2) Current students entering their sophomore or junior year at Colorado State University, and

3) In good academic standing. 


EA-IRES Program
B-205 Natural and Environmental Sciences Building
Natural Resource Ecology Lab
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1499

Or by Email: WCNR_ESS_ires@Mail.ColoState.EDU *** PREFERRED METHOD

Or send by fax: 970-491-1965



Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why don't you have a site and travel dates selected for the summer field experience yet?

Answer: The 2015-16 EA-IRES cohort is working in Kenya June 6 through July 10th. Details of the travel dates will need to be discussed with the fellows (you must be flexible) and worked out with the lead faculty members' summer schedules. Details of the site location will be determined during the fall semester. The two sites being considered are Kenya and Tanzania.


Question: What can I expect out of this program? Will it just be like my other classes except that we will be traveling to Africa?

Answer: EA-IRES is an academic, research, and cultural experience that could very well change your life by opening your eyes and your mind to learning and experiencing new things and new ways of being! Proposal development is a rigorous process that involves building the document piece by piece, and multiple extensive revisions to bring it to professional standard that passes the scrutiny of CSU faculty members, our Institutional Review Board, and the Kenyan National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI). This experience is challenging and time-sensitive. It is also an opportunity for professional scientific preparation that is difficult to find as an undergraduate student. Travel to rural East Africa and working with pastoral community members will be culturally enlightening for all, as you get to know community members, learn about their lives and share your own stories, communicate through translators (and learn a bit of Swahili!), experience life in the African drylands and all of its challenges, opportunities and wonders. You will begin to challenge misconceptions of the drylands, and learn to talk about opportunities for the future. This program goes well beyond "a trip to Africa." Rather, it prepares you over the course of two semesters to study and experience East African societies and ecosystems in a way that is unparalleled.


Question: Can I use the EA-IRES required courses as a substitute for the Warner College of Natural Resources' NR220 requirement?

Answer: Students accepted to EA-IRES with majors in CSU’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability may be eligible to apply their EA-IRES placement to meet a portion of their major requirements, specifically NR 220: Natural Resource & Ecology Measurements. Student should consult the ESS Substitution Policy for NR 220 and make an appointment with their ESS Academic Success Coordinator for more information. Students in other departments of WCNR would need to consult with their advisor to ask about substitutions.


Question: If I am accepted as a fellow, do I need to pay for all of the required coursework?

Answer: Fellows will be awarded a $1,400 fellowship to help defray the costs of participation in the program – for example, for the purchase or rental of gear, vaccinations and anti-malarials, insurance, and coursework. The fellowship will be divided with a small amount contingent upon delivery of required products. No additional funds will be available for students through the program. Coursework is a required part of the program for Fall 2017, Spring 2018 and Summer 2018. Registering for credit for data analysis and production of end products is optional, but these products and presentation of results will be expected by Spring 2019.


Question: Will the funds that are part of the fellowship award cover all of my expenses?

Answer: This will depend on your courseload, your need for and frugality in travel supply purchases, and other things that are not under our control. We suggest that you borrow items that you do not have, buy used gear, or items that you plan to use in the future. Important Note: Students who pay out-of-state tuition may find that the cost of the minimum 1-credit field experience course in Summer 2017 exceeds the $1,400 fellowship award. Please take this into account if you apply, as you will be required to pay the full cost of the course to participate.


Question: When we are traveling, how will we stay in contact with our families and friends?

Answer: We will have access to internet on at least an intermittent basis. This will be somewhat unpredictable, but you will not just disappear for five weeks. Students will have devices to connect to the internet and email, and will be able to FaceTime when we have wireless access or a hotspot link set up. A local cellphone will be on-hand for texts and calls when necessary, and it will be possible for students with compatible phones to use a local SIM card while traveling. We will also be blogging during our travels via the NREL EcoPress website. Check out our 2016 "From the Field" blogs to be posted June 6 - July 11th!