Research Experience for Undergraduates Program


Summer 2015: June 8 - August 15, 2015.

Download the Undergraduate Program Brochure APPLY NOW

REU in Costa Rica

Coordinator: Carissa Ganong
Email: carissa.ganong @

Mentors and Projects 2015

Flyer ( PDF document 356 kb )

( PDF document 460 kb )

Publications from REU research

See research reports of program alumni: Coursebooks

Application Deadline:
January 31st, 2015
*Note: Unofficial electronic transcripts will be accepted

Acceptance Notification: early March

Organization for Tropical Studies
Kattia Méndez, Undergraduate Program Assistant
E-mail: kattia.mendez @
Tel. (506) 2524-0607
Fax (506) 2524-0608

Scientific papers by REU participants
Artículos publicados por participantes REU

REU para Estudiantes Nicaragüenses

Learn how to conduct your own ecological research in the rainforest, one-on-one with an experienced tropical biologist (all expenses and stipend included)!

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a nonprofit consortium that has provided leadership in education, research, and responsible use of natural resources in the tropics since 1963. OTS is committed to increasing the participation of women and ethnic minorities underrepresented in science. As part of this effort, OTS and the National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (NSF-LSAMP) offer a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in Costa Rica that provides hands-on, field-oriented research experiences to a diverse cohort of undergraduate students from the United States.

What is the program like?

Students from diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds will complete an independent research project in the field, from the project planning stage through to symposium presentation and potential publication. Nine undergraduates will be selected through a competitive application process for a ten-week research program at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. Students will live immersed in a rich academic community of researchers conducting novel tropical research and will attend workshops on field skills, current research in tropical biology, international research ethics, statistics, and scientific written and oral communication. Participants also have access to the social, cultural, and recreational activities surrounding La Selva.

Program Highlights

  • Ten weeks of field study at a premier biological station in a diverse tropical rainforest
  • Experienced scientific mentors to guide you through independent research
  • Cultural exchanges with local and international researchers and students

Program Prerequisites

Competitive applicants will have a strong background in biology (demonstrated by 2 semesters of upper-level biology or other experiences as noted in the application essay). They will have a demonstrated interest in field ecology. An introductory knowledge of Spanish will be helpful but is not mandatory. Prior field experience is not a prerequisite.

Why work at La Selva Biological Station?

La Selva is one of the most important sites in the world for research in tropical biology. Owned and operated by OTS, it is visited annually by over 1500 scientists from 200 institutions and 20 countries, as well as by over 200 educational groups. Research at La Selva covers diverse areas, ranging from genetic to organismal to ecosystem level biology. These studies have led to the publication of more than 4,000 scientific articles, theses, and books. Two-thirds of the La Selva property (1,536 ha) houses species rich old-growth forest, while the remainder is abandoned pastures and plantations in various stages of secondary succession or experimental usage. An extensive trail system provides access to a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The entire property has been topographically surveyed and spatially referenced data are managed via GIS. Two well-equipped laboratories, including a large analytical lab, offer air-conditioned work space, common-use equipment, and wireless internet.

Who can apply?

The program is open to undergraduate U.S. citizens and permanent residents of ethnic groups underrepresented in the sciences who are enrolled in LSAMP institutions in the United States and who have taken at least 2 semesters of upper-level biology (beyond introductory courses) or can explain in an essay how they are sufficiently qualified to conduct independent research in field ecology. Graduating seniors are not eligible.

If you need to check if your institution is enrolled in LSAMP, please go to this link

What does the REU award cover?

The OTS REU award covers the cost of room and board as well as international travel to and from Costa Rica. Participants will also receive a stipend of $4500 for their 10 weeks of work on their research.

What is the application deadline?

For the 2015 summer program the application deadline is January 31st, 2015. To be considered for admission, complete application materials must be received by this deadline. To apply, students must complete the application via the "Apply Now!" link on this webpage, which includes letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts, and a statement of research interests.

Applicants should plan to send an official transcript later if they are accepted to the program. Notification of acceptance, is anticipated for late February or early March.

What are the program dates?

The summer 2015 program will take place from June 8 to August 15.

What have previous REU participants said about the program?

“I got the chance to do exactly what I came here to do: research in a tropical rainforest in a place with incredibly knowledgeable people.”

“Getting to work independently on a research project provided incredible insight into what graduate school will be like, and getting to do it in the rainforest was the ultimate coolest thing ever.”

“I loved the possibility to interact with students from a different culture and to be able to live like a real researcher.”

“My mentor works hard and is easily approachable. He is down to earth, while teaching me all about the world of spider research. He reflects what I believe a mentor could and should be.”

Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS)
Duke University
Box 90633, Durham, NC 27708-0633
Telephone: (919) 684-5774
Fax (919) 684-5661
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Organization for Tropical Studies
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