• REU Interns
  • NSF REU Site: Wetland Science in a Modern World

    Program Dates: May 20 - July 25, 2024
    Application Deadline: February 16, 2024


    Spend your summer immersed within the NGRREC research community


    The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center invites highly motivated undergraduates who are interested in pursuing careers in the life sciences to apply to our 10-week "Wetlands in a Modern World" summer internship program (see program flyer).

    Wetlands are among the most functionally important ecosystems on Earth but are being impacted at unprecedented levels. 

    In this summer program students will employ a modern integrative approach to wetland science that makes use of recent technological and theoretical developments across the geochemical, biological, and physical sciences.

    Students will conduct research at NGRREC’s state-of-the-art field station in Alton, IL and at local field sites situated at the confluence of the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri rivers. Under the mentorship of NGRREC scientists students will gain experience in project design, field and lab-based research methods, data collection and analysis, and present results as a scientific paper, participate in a poster session at NGRREC Neighbor Nights, create a scientific poster, and showcase their project at our annual NGRREC-REU research symposium to increase science communication skills.

    Students will receive a living stipend of $8,000.00 and relocation reimbursement (up to $500.00).

    This program is made possible through generous support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

    Please read below for more details about the program, and contact the Intern Program Coordinator, Amy Monroe, at ngrrecintern@lc.edu with any additional questions. 

    Program Theme

    Wetlands are among the most unique and functionally important ecosystems on Earth. Wetlands not only provide critical ecological services (e.g. filtering runoff, attenuating floodwaters, recharging groundwater supplies, removing pollution and providing fish and wildlife habitat) but are key drivers of local economies due to their importance for agriculture, recreation and transportation.

    In the modern world, wetlands are often heavily influenced by a diverse suite of natural and anthropogenic processes acting across the landscape at a variety of spatiotemporal scales, including land use change, pollution, invasive species and climate change. The increased demand for land and water as well as a rapidly changing climate has resulted in an accelerated rate of loss and degradation of wetlands across the globe. There is now a critical need for research on wetlands to ensure the long-term ecological and economic health of our watersheds and to assess current restoration and management practices.   

    There have also been advances in the capability and accessibility of emerging technologies scientists use to study the natural world and of quantitative frameworks that explain and predict the structure and function of the biosphere. Recent technological developments include automated tracking, remote sensors and eDNA. Conceptual advances include a renewed focus on the flux of matter, energy, and information within and across ecosystems, and efforts to unify ecology across time, space, and levels of biological organization. 

    The time is right for combining these two issues to create a modern science of wetlands that is multidisciplinary, integrates new technologies and approaches, and addresses global issues of concern, such as pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. 

    Wetland science is a unique discipline that blends chemistry, hydrology, ecology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science. Accordingly, research as part of this REU program will be multi-disciplinary in its approach to the student experience. Ultimately, understanding wetlands in the modern world will require a unique and unified approach that applies emerging technologies with questions at the forefront of the physical and biological sciences. 

    NGRREC’s REU program, “Wetland Science in a Modern World,” focuses on a modern integrative approach to studying wetlands using recent technological and theoretical developments with a goal of unifying wetland science across scales. 

    Program Benefits

    The program will deepen student's understand of wetland ecosystems while advancing STEM skills, scientific literacy and ability to think critically about environmental issues.

    NGRREC has a range of research labs students will have the opportunity to work in, which house equipment such as water analytics, climate chambers, aquarium arrays, and more.

    Projects can include fieldwork - from local wetlands to conservation areas - and study any aspect of the wetland ecosystem from water and soil quality to plastic pollution.

    Our program also has a strong focus on career development including a career panel, workshops and many opportunities to interact with NGRREC staff from our Research, Education and Outreach divisions. 

    Students will also gain experience in science communication to the public, through involvement in NGRREC's community outreach STREAM series.

    The program will provide financial benefits to students including:

    • A living stipend of $8,000.00 and relocation reimbursement (up to $500.00).
    • $1,000.00 in research funds per project.


    Program and Activities

    Students will spend 10-weeks in the program, during which they will work closely with their assigned mentor(s) and other members of their research team on a variety of lab and field-based research projects. An overall goal of this program is to provide students with hands-on experiences in multiple scientific disciplines.

    During the first week, students will be introduced to the REU program, NGRREC and wetland science in a modern world.

    Weekly activities include lectures focusing on current theory and practices of wetland science, as well as professional development workshops in scientific communication, manuscript preparation, career panel, research poster development and discussion of environmental racism and diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusivity in STEM.

    Throughout the program, students will have the opportunity to attend events to foster relationships between students and members of the NGRREC community including BBQ's and a variety of activities (e.g. canoe trip on the Mississippi River, Cardinals baseball game, etc.). Inters will also visit local field sites to experience different aquatic, floodplain and upland habitats of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. 

    The REU program will culminate on the second to last day with a research symposium where students will present their work to local, regional and visiting scientists, students and other interested participants.


    Students will be matched with one or two NGRREC scientists who, together with their research team, will provide guidance and support on a research project throughout the 10-week program. Students are matched with mentors based on a list of specific research topics that they select during their application process. Our program's goal is to provide students with hands-on experience in multiple scientific disciplines. Note: the program director will attempt to accommodate these rankings but cannot promise each student will get their top ranked selection. 

    This year's REU mentors are detailed here.

    This year's list of specific research topics include: 

    Agriculture Forest Ecology Remote Sensing
    Aquatic Ecology Herpetology Restoration Ecology
    Behavioral Ecology Macroinvertebrates Salt Pollution
    Birds Movement Ecology Soils
    Community Science Nutrient Dynamics     Terrestrial Ecology
    Community Ecology Physiology Urban Ecology
    Conservation Biology    Plant Biology Water Quality
    Fish Biology Plastic Pollution Wildlife Ecology


    Application Process


    Participants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its territories. 

    Participants must have a GPA over 3.0. 

    Only undergraduate students are eligible. An undergraduate student is a student who is enrolled in a degree program (either part-time or full-time) leading to a bachelor's degree. Students who graduated from their institution prior to the summer program are not eligible to apply. Students who are transferring from one institution to another and are enrolled in neither institutions during the intervening summer, may participate. High school graduates who have not yet enrolled and students who have received their bachelor's degree and are no longer enrolled as an undergraduate student are not eligible. 

    Members of underrepresented or underserved minority groups; students with disabilities; first-generation college students; students with limited opportunities for research experiences, and others who would contribute to diversity in other ways are encouraged to apply. 

    If selected, students must work full-time in our program and participate in all activities during the duration of the 10-week program, including some weekends.

    Selection to the program is based on academic standing and matching of each students’ background and interests with the program. 

    The steps for applying to the program are: 

    Step 1 - Assemble Application Materials

    Applicants should have the following information and materials ready before beginning their application.

    1. Current GPA - You will be asked to enter your current GPA.
    2. Academic Transcript(s) - You will be asked to upload a digital version of your transcripts through the application form. Transcripts are needed from all undergraduate institutions you have attended. Official and unofficial versions are accepted. Note: Official transcripts sent by the registrar can be sent to us via email (ngrrecintern@lc.edu) or by mail to 1 Confluence Way, East Alton IL 62024, ATTN: Amy Monroe.
    3. Resume/CV - 3-page maximum
    4. Cover Letter - This is your opportunity to describe yourself and your educational and career goals.
    5. Short Essay - Detail your interest in NGRREC’s REU program, “Wetland science in a modern world”. Be sure to indicate how you, based on your scientific background and life experiences, will contribute to the REU program and to NGRREC more broadly.

    Step 2 - Complete and Submit the Application

    Review your application materials carefully. Once you have submitted your application, you will be unable to modify it.

    Step 3 - Sit back, relax and wait!

    Notices of acceptance into the program will be sent to applicants beginning in late March. 

    After selected students confirm their participation in the program, they will receive a schedule of activities, a roster of all students and research mentor participants in the program and more information on our program, including housing and travel.

    The program co-directors will then make tentative assignments of each student to a mentor. These assignments take into consideration any preferences for research areas that the students expressed in their applications. A synopsis of the student's background is sent to the proposed mentor for review and approval and the mentor is instructed to contact the student by email and/or phone to provide the student with background information and materials to be read to prepare the student for the research project.


  • Contact

    Amy Monroe, Intern Program Coordinator

    One Confluence Way
    East Alton, IL 62024

    Phone: (618) 468-2910

  • National Science Foundation

    Lewis and Clark Community College