Teaching, mentoring & student support

Young person working with small equipment in stream bed

Hands-on experience

Our research mission includes teaching, supportive one-on-one mentoring, and empowering students — including undergrads — to conduct research on their own in both the lab and the field.

As scientists, we conduct daily research activity in both the lab and the field, and students are involved in virtually every grant funded. We engage students through:

  • classes taught on campus by our scientists holding faculty positions;
  • field courses and field work led by scientists or graduate students at the Field Station or other sites;
  • opportunities to assist with faculty research in Survey labs or at the KU Field Station through fellowships or grant funding;
  • mentorship of students doing their own research;
  • assistance to students in obtaining grants for research;
  • assistance to students in developing posters and presentations for conferences;
  • paid employment in Survey offices and at the KU Field Station.

Survey scientists holding joint faculty positions take turns team-teaching KU’s Principles of Ecology course, which enrolled 125 students in fall 2021, as well as its Field & Lab Methods component. They also teach courses in their specialty areas and in the Honors Program, going outside the box with titles such as “Connecting College to Climate Change,”

These joint faculty members chaired 37 master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation committees in 2021; they and other Bio Survey scientists also served as committee members for other students. In addition, this year 12 postdoctoral fellows worked in Survey labs, and 41 undergrads or post-baccalaureate students received mentoring or worked in the labs.

In addition, our research center annually presents awards to students for their own research. In 2021, two students were named as recipients of the KU Field Station Student Research Awards: Atefeh Hosseini, doctoral student in engineering, for her project, “Impact of climate change on harmful algal bloom,” and Ligia Souza, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology, for her project, “Changes in future nutrient availability may depend on the temperature sensitivity of soil extracelluar enzymes.” Hosseini’s advisor was Joshua Roundy, assistant professor in the Dept. of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering. Souza’s advisor is Sharon Billings senior scientist and Dean's Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Each recipient presents their research during one of the research center’s Friday Ecology Seminars in the coming academic year. The awards are funded through KU Endowment.