Stage One: Preparation for International Research Experience. This stage will take place during the Spring Semester (January – May) each year. Participants will develop an independent research project idea and prepare a 2 page research proposal (following the format of the NSF GRFP) on a specific topic related to the research they will conduct in Stage 2. Students will also receive preliminary training in relevant field methods from US PIs, and will participate in regular webinars including students and PIs.
Stage Two: International Research Experience in Australia. The international research experience will take place for eight-ten weeks during summer vacation from late-May thru early-August. During this stage, the students will collaborate with international colleagues and PIs on avian behavioral ecology research. Students will work independently or in pairs, and conduct semi-independent research under the guidance of Australian senior researchers using cutting edge approaches to the study of avian behavioral ecology (see the research page for more information on potential student projects).
Research will be interspersed with trips to biological research centers in Brisbane and environs. In addition to Griffith University, IRES fellows will tour facilities and meet with staff researchers at other Australian institutions. Potential visits include: (1) Commonwealth Scientific Investigation and Research Organization (CSIRO) – Tropical Ecosystems ResearchCentre; (2) the Queensland Museum and Science Center; (3) the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Services regional office; (4) the Queensland University of Technology; and (5) the University of Queensland. Each of these research organizations is located in the Brisbane area. Additionally, students will take day trips to natural areas representing major biotic zones of the region other than the dry sclerophyll woodland where research is conducted. IRES fellows will also take one-two longer trips (overnight camping) to sites of outstanding natural and cultural importance, including Lamington National Park.
Stage Three: Post-international Research Experience. Following their return to the US, students will continue to conduct related research (enrolled in appropriate independent research courses) during Fall semester and beyond. Students will conduct laboratory-based analyses using materials and data they collected in the field, including blood samples for molecular analysis; feather samples for visual signal analysis; audio recordings for vocalization analyses; and GIS coordinates for mapping and spatial analyses. We will also help students prepare internal and external grant applications to help support their progression to completing Honors projects. Beyond this Fall semester, students will remain engaged in the larger research project through data analyses, preparation of presentations, writing and publishing of manuscripts for peer-review, shared internet sites, and preparation of their group video that communicates the novelty and value of their international experience to their education and training (see Stage 4).
Stage Four: Dissemination and Continued Student Development. IRES fellows will disseminate information on their experiences and research findings at four levels: 1) they will give informal talks at K-12 schools to motivate pre-college students to consider careers in ecology and evolutionary biology; 2) they will give informal presentations to undergraduate students at their home institution as a means of attracting future program participants, and will share their research findings via formal presentations at internal research conferences held annually by each University; 3) they will give poster presentations at professional conferences, and publish their results in professional research journals with the help of the PIs and Australian collaborators (see Papers/Posters for previous IRES products); and 4) they will produce a video of their educational and research experience that will be shared within their institutions, but also used to more broadly communicate the enriching value of international research to personal academic development (see Videos).