Meredith College hosted the first all-members meeting of the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN), June 27-29, 2012.
The five-year EREN project was established in 2010 with a $498,980 grant from the National Science Foundation and represents a collaboration among 14 “founder” colleges. The impetus behind this project was a desire to more fully integrate ecological research into education at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs), along with the recognition that many of the most pressing questions in ecology and environmental science are best addressed using multiple sites and coordinated data collection. The EREN project facilitates the development of multi-site, collaborative ecological research projects involving undergraduates that allow students to explore ecological patterns at regional to continental scales.
The network has grown to more than 140 PUI faculty members from across the United States. Sixty faculty members, representing over 50 institutions from 23 States, Puerto Rico and Canada, attended this first all-members meeting, including Meredith Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Erin Lindquist. During the meeting, EREN members further developed research protocols and undergraduate curriculum for several EREN pilot projects, and initiated working groups for new collaborative research projects. To practice research protocols, participants utilized the Meredith lake and forest.
Meredith College is a founding institution of EREN. Meredith undergraduate students have participated and will continue to participate on the collaborative faculty-student research projects in classes and independent research.
Lindquist is a member of EREN’s Leadership Working Group and co-lead scientist on EREN’s Permanent Forest Plot Project (PFPP). The goal of this project is to establish a set of permanent research plots throughout the United States and Canada that will allow faculty and students to address questions related to tree biomass, carbon accumulation, invasive species, and disturbance patterns across a range of sites and ecoregions. Students in Meredith’s Plant Biology and Environmental Science courses have also participated in this project utilizing the one-hectare permanent study plot in the Meredith Forest. Three Meredith students are doing summer research on EREN’s Turtle Pop project, which aims to determine the effect of urbanization on turtle populations.
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created to promote the progress of science. With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion, the NSF provides funding for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities.
For more information on EREN, visit www.erenweb.org.
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