Undergraduate and Graduate Student Education

The PIs and researchers use the Moorea Coral Reef LTER as a catalyst for developing advanced education and research training programs. In addition to the traditional opportunities to develop and hone research skills, both undergraduate and graduate students learn fundamental skills necessary to organize and carry out interdisciplinary, collaborative research. They interact extensively with both postdoctoral students and senior investigators affiliated with the MCR LTER.

Recruitment and retention of underrepresented students are facilitated by provision of a support structure and development of role models. The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and California State University, Northridge (CSUN) have relatively large Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Island student populations; CSUN is designated a "Hispanic-serving Institution."

Interactions among undergraduate and graduate students from the two campuses are promoted through workshops and seminars. These are held on both campuses to encourage "cross-fertilization" of research ideas and provide exposure of graduate students to contrasting academic systems. These experiences develop a community of students at different educational stages working on related projects within the MCR LTER.

Opportunities for advanced undergraduate and graduate students to learn more about the biology and ecology of the coral reef ecosystem at the core of the LTER project are available through the Three Seas Program: East West Marine Biology of Northeastern University. This program offers an intensive year of coursework and research in marine biology that is taught in three residential sections at the Marine Science Center in Nahant (MA), the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station on Moorea (French Polynesia), and the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Santa Catalina Island (CA). Students spend 15 weeks in Nahant, 10 weeks on Moorea, and 10 weeks on Catalina Island, and in each location take advanced field-oriented classes in marine topics. The faculty instructors are nationally-recognized research scientists, several are involved integrally in the Moorea Coral Reef (MCR) LTER, and the curriculum has been designed to serve as a springboard to careers in marine sciences ranging from entry-level positions to advanced graduate studies and faculty/staff scientist positions.

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