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Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning Opportunities

I. SDSU Research Opportunities On-Campus or Nearby

Oak Lake Field Station

Application Deadline: April 10th, 2021

Oak Lake

oak lake webpage

Available Awards


2021 Summer Research Topics

1. Herpetological research with Dr. Bruce Eichhorst at OLFS

For the past two summers I have been developing a research program on reptiles at OLFS.  My main target species are Red-bellied Snakes (RBS) and Prairie Skinks (PS), but there are also Common and Plains Gartersnakes, and Painted Turtles.  Undergraduate students interested in working with me will get to work on a variety of topics related to reptile ecology but could also work on some aspects related to amphibian species found at OLFS.  Because I will be living at the station, I will be available daily to work directly with students, thus providing them with extensive direction, mentorship and exposure to field techniques.  The following are some of the topics students will get to work on.

  • Assess population status of RBS and PS and their use of different habitat types
  • Determine efficacy of using cover objects to attract snakes and skinks
  • Assess attraction effectiveness of different materials that can be used for cover objects (e.g., wood, metal, roofing shingles, etc.)
  • Determine thermal environment under cover objects and its influence on periods of reptile use throughout the day
  • Mark snakes and skinks for mark-recapture population estimates
  • Photograph and collect RBS to assess color and body pattern variation
  • Determine relative frequency of Common and Plains Gartersnakes at the station
  • Assess degree of ectoparasite infestation in skinks
  • Experiment with new methods to attract female skinks (i.e., artificial nest sites)
  • Measure and mark female Painted Turtles that nest on trails at the station

2. Relationships among Aquatic Species Diversity and Shoreline Development with Dr. Alison Coulter

In the Prairie Pothole Region, increasing human land use has led to the loss and degradation of aquatic habitats.  For example, the cultivation of row crops increases dissolved sediment which can lead to algae blooms and low oxygen conditions which can kill aquatic life.  Humans may also remove shoreline vegetation which can also increase sediments as the loss of vegetation destabilizes soil. Degradation of aquatic habitats from shoreline development can be minimized by employing best practices such as retaining native vegetation buffer strips.  However, control of shorelines may belong to multiple landowners or it may be infeasible for a landowner to keep a vegetation buffer along their entire shoreline.  Therefore, it is important to know if small areas of undeveloped shoreline can positively influence aquatic species and habitat. This study will use Oak Lake and 2 additional lakes to examine if variation in shoreline type can influence small scale aquatic species diversity and habitat quality.  Oak Lake has a variable shoreline types including areas with row crops with small vegetation buffers, mowed grasses right up to the water, forested areas, and prairie/shrub areas.  The student who completes this project will establish aquatic quadrats along different shoreline types and will monitor fish number and species diversity, aquatic invertebrate diversity, and aquatic habitat characteristics (e.g., temperature, water clarity) in each quadrat.  In addition to sample collection at Oak Lake, this project will involve work identifying collected aquatic invertebrates on campus and sample collection from up to 2 additional lakes.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Application Deadline: April 19, 2021

RMEF Webpage

Available Awards

Wildlife Leadership Awards (WLA) include a $5,000 scholarship and one-year RMEF membership.


College juniors and seniors chosen for their leadership ability, dedication to wildlife conservation and scholastic achievements.


Download the RMEF application.

C.A. Taylor Herbarium


Herbarium Webpage

Paid and unpaid opportunities.

Dr. Maribeth Latvis - Herbarium Director

Native Plant Initiative

Native Plant

NPI Webpage

Paid and unpaid opportunities.

Dr. Lora Perkins - NPI Lead Faculty


NSF REU programs: National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate Students
(“REU”-like experience with the Consortium of Plant Invasion Genomics)

CREU Webpage

  • each research hub will recruit 2 students.
  • SDState represents one of the major research hubs.
  • will provide $4000 stipend, $2000 lodging, $1000 research allowance, and professional mentoring and training.


NSF REU programs: National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate Students

REU-Plants Webpage

Interdisciplinary research in plant sciences linking genomes-phonomes-landscapes.


Dr. Lan Xu - mentor

Dr. Maribeth Latvis - mentor

Dr. Lora Perkins - co-mentor for a student on a seedling project.

This website will be updated soon with individual project descriptions, but we’d like to start recruiting!

II. Off-Campus Experiential Learning Opportunities


How to Apply

  • Good GPA (3.0 or better)
  • Resume - including academic and research experience
  • Statement of interest
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Letters of recommendation – ask if your references can provide you with a “strong” reference!