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Zoo Miami, the Zoo Miami Foundation, and Florida International University (FIU) will offer a Research Experience for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation beginning in Summer 2021. In this 10-week summer program, students will conduct independent research in conservation science under the mentorship of the conservation biologists, wildlife veterinarians, and education researchers at Zoo Miami and FIU.
Applications Open: October 1st, 2020
Applications Close: February 1st, 2021
Students Notified of Acceptance: March 12th, 2021
Program Begins: May 24th, 2021
Program Ends: August 1st, 2021
Weekly stipend ($600/week)
Paid summer housing (at FIU University Towers Dorms)
Food allowance ($100/week)
Travel costs to and from Miami
Students enrolled in college throughout the U.S. are eligible to apply. Students from minorities underrepresented in science and students from universities with limited research opportunities are particularly encouraged to apply.
Conservation, research, and education are a fundamental part of the mission of modern zoos. Zoo Miami, ZMF, and FIU are happy to host the only zoo-based Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program within the US, beginning in summer 2021. Students in this program will conduct mentored research under the guidance of conservation biologists and conservation practitioners from Zoo Miami and from FIU.
Like all REU programs, students in this program will have a guided introduction to how to conduct research:
Unlike any other REU program, students will have the unique experience of conducting research within a zoo environment, with unparalleled access to endangered species and conservationists working to protect them. This program is highly interdisciplinary, with research topics ranging from field ecology, reproductive physiology, disease biology, and conservation education. What links these projects is that they help advance conservation by leveraging the unique resources of a modern zoo.
Ex situ conservation describes conservation of animals in human care. Ex situ programs in zoos are focused on protecting animals that are threatened in their native range, and may focus on propagation for conservation reintroductions, understanding animal behavior or animal welfare, or using animals in human care to learn about species that are challenging to study in the wild.
In situ research focuses on field conservation, understanding the ecology or conservation of species in the field. Zoo Miami’s in situ conservation programs focus on the ecology of critically endangered pine rocklands – a habitat found only in South Florida. Zoo Miami itself is surrounded by, and manages, one of the largest remaining patches of pine rocklands left in the world. The pine rocklands at Zoo Miami are home to rare and endangered species ranging from Gopher Tortoises to Florida Bonneted Bats to the Bartram’s Hairstreak Butterfly.
Conservation education is a fundamental part of the mission of a modern zoo, and zoos are one of the major places where people from any background and of any age can learn about wildlife and conservation. However, conservation education is not always easy in “informal” learning environments such as zoos. Conservation Education research at Zoo Miami focuses on understanding how people learn in zoo environments, and how zoo education programs can be optimized.
This program is suited for students with a background in biology, environmental science, or education. Students should have a passion for conservation and an enthusiasm for working with diverse teams of conservation practitioners.
We are optimistic that science will develop a vaccine by late May 2021. However, this program is designed for students to live together in housing at FIU, and requires that students be able to travel across the country to participate. We are making contingencies in the event that either university housing or cross-country travel are not realistic by May 2021. Stay tuned and we will post more information here as it becomes available.