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CEREO REU: Data-intensive research in the environmental sciences

Data-intensive research in the environmental sciences

Program Overview

Healthy ecosystems are fundamentally important for human well-being. However, anthropogenic processes, such as urbanization, deforestation, and the over-exploitation of natural resources have led to widespread changes in the quality and function of our supporting environment. The complexity of these environmental issues has historically limited how well we can predict and adapt to changing conditions. However, the availability of “big data” – volumes of data not readily handled by the usual data tools and practices – and rapid development of data-intensive research offers environmental researchers greatly expanded ways to understand and study the world.

Over the course of nine weeks, this program will teach students how to form testable hypotheses in environmental research and provide training on how to organize, analyze and synthesize data from large or heterogeneous databases.  Students participating in this program will attend a hands-on workshop to learn basic data management and research skills, so no prior programming skills are required.

Program Goals

The goal of this NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site is to introduce undergraduate students interested in environmental research to data management and analysis using primarily open-source software so that they can confidently use environmental data to explore and answer scientific questions in a reproducible way. Through a combination of workshop training, mentored research and the generation of research products, this program will immerse students in environmental research, showing them the breadth of issues and topics encompassed by this field and providing them with formal trainingon how to efficiently manage, analyze, synthesize, and share environmental data. Added benefits include learning to work collaboratively and providing students with a level of core competency in research that few young scientists receive.


Who is eligible?

Participants must be currently registered at a two or four year college, and may not have received their Bachelor’s degree prior to July 2015. Women, members of demographic groups traditionally underrepresented in environmental fields, and students from community colleges or institutions that do not offer research opportunities for undergraduates are particularly encouraged to apply. You must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident in order to receive NSF funding.

Students at all levels of their undergraduate work are sought for this program, and may come from any major as long as they are interested in environmental research.  While a major component of this program will center on using computing software to engage in environmental research, experience in programming is not required and training will be provided during the course of the program.


For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Julie Padowski

e-mail: | phone: 509-335-8539

News & Updates

We regret to announce that this REU site was not selected for funding in 2017.  We will be seeking funding in 2018 for this REU program.

Deadline for Applications:

Please check back in September 2017 for application dates and information.