SUPER Program Overview
The SUPER Program is a program that brings together teaching from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability (ESS) with research mentoring performed largely by Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL) scientists. The program is designed for Colorado State University (CSU) sophomores and juniors who are interested in gaining experience in ecological research is delivered over two semesters. Freshmen and seniors may also participate, depending on enrollment availability. Students from all disciplines who are interested in developing ecological research skills are welcome to apply.
It is our goal for you to have an enhanced student research experience that:
1. Increases your scientific critical thinking skills;
2. Expands your scientific literacy; and
3. Assists you with gaining confidence in your ability to do ecological research.
4. Improves your qualification for future research positions or graduate school.
SUPER instruction and active learning activities help you achieve these goals.
SUPER (Skills for Undergraduate Participation in Ecological Research). Our philosophy is that students in the ecological sciences should be equipped with skills and provided with experiences that will prepare them to evaluate, construct, and perform research on their own or as part of a team. Undergraduate students need to become scientific citizens, participate in public scientific discourse, learn to engage in scientific communication with diverse audiences, and prepare for success in graduate school. This program equips students with skills to have meaningful impacts on the great challenges that we are facing as a society in the 21st century.
History of SUPER
The SUPER Program was first created by graduate students in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL) at CSU in 2010, by graduate students who recognized the need for such training, and the capacity held by NREL scientists and graduate students to mentor undergraduates who participate in their programs. Over the years the program has been modified to best meet the needs of developing young scientists, and to track the demands of the ecological research sector. We are creating the scientists of the future. Dr. Stacy Lynn of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory teaches and coordinates the program.
In recent years, the SUPER Program was formalized to become part of CSU’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability (ESS) curriculum. A one-credit weekly training seminar is held in the fall semester, when the capstone project is the writing of a literature review that prepares the students for their spring research projects. In the fall, students are also paired with mentors based on student skills and interests, and mentor needs. A second one-credit seminar is held in the spring, with the capstone of that semester being the presentation of research projects in poster format at two University symposia in mid-April: The University-wide “Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity” symposium, and the “ESS Undergraduate Research Symposium”. In addition to the seminar, students earn 2-3 credits working on their projects with their research mentors.
While the course credits for students participating in SUPER are earned through ESS, NREL scientists and graduate students maintain a key role in the program, serving as mentors for students who can come from any Warner College (WCNR) department, or even any department in the University (most students do come from ESS). This mentorship, and the inclusion of students on research teams as full participants, prepares students for real-world science careers and research collaboration. NREL graduate students also gain critical guided mentoring experience through this program, setting them up for success in advising and mentoring students in the future.