Summer REU internship 2014

Are you interested in gaining field research experience and learning about the ecology and evolution of plants in fragmented prairie habitat? If you are, then this REU (research experience for undergraduates) might be the opportunity you are looking for!

The Echinacea Project is looking for interested and enthusiastic summer field researchers for the 2014 summer field season. Our project investigates how small population size and reduced genetic diversity influence individual fitness, population demographics, plant-insect interactions and evolution in the purple coneflower Echinacea angustifolia. This is a great internship or summer co-op for aspiring ecologists, conservation biologists, and evolutionary biologists! Read more general information about our field season!


Some of Team Echinacea 2013 looking for seedlings

Program Details

The main field season runs June through August. The exact start and end dates are negotiable. There is a $440/week stipend and housing and travel expenses to the research site are covered.

Independent project: You will develop an independent research project in consultation with the two principle investigators of the project, Stuart and Ruth. Projects can explore questions about the ecology and evolutionary biology of Echinacea angustifolia, another prairie plant species, or plant associated insects. All work occurs in the context of prairie remnants which allows projects to be directly applicable to conservation challenges of habitat fragmentation. Here are some examples of past projects: “Insect diversity in prairie remnants,” “The effect of remnant size on the diversity of Echinacea-visiting ant species,” “Effect of inbreeding on symmetry of floral display,” “Competition between Echinacea and thistles for pollinators, “Pollinating bees of Echinacea angustifolia: who gets the job done?,” “Flowering Phenology of the Prairie Forb E. angustifolia in Fragmented Populations,” “Ant species richness and abundance in Western Minnesotan prairie fragmented by large-scale agriculture,” and “Invasion by hybridization between native and non-native purple coneflowers.”

Qualifications: College student, wants to work outdoors, is patient, has good hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill, willing to work hard even in inclement or hot conditions, and interested in research. During the summer, REU participants must be enrolled in an undergraduate institution and be a US citizen or permanent resident of the US or its possessions. Members of underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

No experience is necessary, but you must be enthusiastic and hard-working.

How to apply

Ask yourself if you love being outdoors, if you are patient, if you can work independently, if you are willing to work hard in adverse conditions, and if you could be enthusiastic about this job. If you answer yes to these questions and you still want the job, please apply. Your application should include:

  • a cover letter, including the following…

    Ilse, Gretel, and Ruth mapping plants.

    • why you’re interested
    • what your future plans are
    • when you can start and end
    • a statement that you are eligible for the REU program
    • who will serve as your reference
    • your email and phone number
  • your resume
  • your transcript (unofficial OK)
  • one letter of recommendation (sent by recommender)

Send your application via email to with the subject line “Summer REU intern application” by 27 February 2014. Format your cover letter, resume, and transcript as pdf files. Begin each file name with your surname.

Review of applications will begin on 27 February 2014. We’ll accept applications until positions are filled. Be sure to include an email address and phone number where you can be reached during March.

Members of groups underrepresented in science are particularly encouraged to apply. Note: to increase your chances of working on the Echinacea Project as an REU, you should also apply to the REU program through the Chicago Botanic Garden. It’s a separate application process (closing on 31 January), but the same research experience.

More information

If you have any questions, contact Stuart via e-mail or phone (847-835-6978). Read about the project’s background.