What is the difference between mentor directed and independent research?

In mentor directed research, the ideas will be generated by your mentor and carried out by you. You will need to employ day-to-day critical thinking skills in your research, but major problems will be resolved by your mentor. In contrast, during independent research, you will think of your own research question and plan. Of course, you will discuss your research plan with your mentor and you can also discuss problems with your mentor as they arise. However, you will likely feel great enough ownership over your project to solve minor problems as they arise.

How many students will be in the program?

Approximately 20-30 students.

How many credits will I get?

Credit hours will be distributed per university guidelines. The workshop portion of the class is generally worth 1 credit per semester. Additional credits are gained for lab work at a rate of 1 credit for 45 hours of work. Please see the Registration details tab for more information.

How much time does this require?

In the first semester, you will attend eight workshops over the course of the semester, each of which require about 2-3 hours of in-class time. Out of class, you may need to finish up some data analysis, however this will be minimal. Between workshops, you will be asked to participate in online discussions with the cohort and the organizers and you may be asked to read some literature.

In the second semester, you will carry out research with your mentor. You and your mentor can decide on the time required. You can do 45 hours of research for 1 credit, 90 hours of research for 2 credits and so on. You will also be required to attend 8-1hr workshops to be followed by student led 1-hr discussions (1 credit). If you would like to propose independent research to your mentor, some time will be required to write a proposal. Your mentor and the program coordinator will be happy to help you with this.

Please see the Program Details tab for more information.

What type of research group might I be able to join?

The Natural Resource Ecology Lab (NREL) is made up of a group of scientists with diverse interests including, but not limited to, “African Ecosystems and Societies”; “Global Environmental Sustainability”; “Greenhouse Gas Mitigation”; and “Rocky Mountain Environment and Society”. Please see http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/all-research-projects.html for a more complete list or peruse individual scientists’ interests at http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/directory.html. You may also have the opportunity to work with faculty members in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Visit http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/ess-people/faculty to browse their faculty profiles and learn about their research.

Do I have to do both semesters? Can I do more?

You do not have to take part in both semesters, but you do need to start the program in the fall with the six workshops. If you decide the program is for you, you can keep going in the program. We hope you do! If you want to develop your own research or keep working on your mentor’s project after the second semester, you can stay on. If you and your mentor continue to have common interests, you may be able to stay on as an undergraduate researcher through your time at CSU. You can also explore different ecological research questions with different mentors.