This award to the Alabama A&M University (AAMU) will provide a ten-week research experience to undergraduates during the summers of 2012- 2014. Students will spend the first two weeks at AAMU followed by eight weeks at Nanjing Forestry University in China. The program focuses on Ecological and Environmental Science Research in an Urbanizing Landscape, engaging students in a broad range of ecological and environmental science research with a focus on the hypothesis driven quantification, experimentation and modeling of human induced ecological and environmental changes, particularly the ecosystem responses to urbanization. The program will expose talented students to international collaborative research. Students will improve their written and verbal communication skills and enhance their self-confidence and ability to do teamwork. The program is designed to enhance students? critical thinking and analytical skills, and provide opportunities for networking among students, faculty, and scientists in the US and China. Each student will complete a research project, prepare a written report, and give a presentation. Additionally, students will be exposed to China's language, culture, and history. Students will be recruited through the program website, mailings, and faculty-to-faculty communications. Students will be selected based on academic record, research interest and experience, and potential for outstanding research in ecology related fields. An Advisory Committee will provide program review, advice and consultation. Students will be tracked to determine their continued interest in their academic field of study, their career paths, and the lasting influences of the research experience. The successes of the program will be assessed by various means, including use of an REU common assessment tool. More information is available by visiting www.aamu.edu/Academics/agricultural-and-environmental-sciences/departments/nres/Pages/REU-Program.aspx, or by contacting the PI (Dr. Yong Wang at yong.wang @aamu.edu) or the co-PI (Dr. Elica Moss at elica.moss@aamu.edu).

Project Report

The development and opportunities created by the partnership between Alabama A&M University (AAMU) and Nanjing Forestry University (NFU) led to a three-year program: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in China, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2011. The primary goal of the NSF REU program was to expose undergraduate students with an interest in pursuing a graduate research degree in science to hands-on research experiences. Over 50% of our students were underserved minorities or students with limited research experience. In the summer of 2012, a total of twelve students from six different institutions across the USA and five faculty/staff members joined this program; and in the summer of 2013, a total of thirteen students and six faculty/staff participated in the program. In the summer of 2014, eight undergraduate students from seven different institutions across the U.S. (including AAMU), three AAMU graduate students, and eight faculty/staff participated in the REUG (Research Experiences for Undergraduates and Graduates) program. Essentially, 33 undergraduate students, seven graduate students, and 19 faculty participated in this program across all three years. Our program provided these students with opportunities to gain research experience in China, thereby making them more competitive in today’s job market and thereby increasing the diversity of the STEM workforce. The students participated in relevant urban ecology research while simultaneously gaining cultural dexterity within the globally important culture of China. Research topics included the "Impact of Anthropogenic Disturbance on the Avian Communities of Nanjing, China", "Comparison of Nitrification in Poplar and Metasequoia Plantations", "Urbanizing in Nanjing, China from 1995-2011", "Bat Foraging and Insect Communities in Three Habitat Types in Nanjing, China", "The Adsorption Behavior of Black Carbon in Urban Forest and Traffic District Soils toward Heavy Metal Ions (Cu, Zn)", and the "Occurrence of Typical Antibiotics in Huai River and Hongze Lake, Eastern China". This program provided experiences that opened minority students’ eyes to the possibility of STEM/research-related fields and has substantially broadened the scope of their life experience and world view through two months in China, experiencing culture, life, and scientific research on a Chinese campus. Our students became intimately familiar with the food, the NFU campus, and the City of Nanjing. Indeed, several students remarked that Nanjing had become a second home for them, and look forward to returning. Students bonded and made friends with their lab-mates and other NFU students. Most importantly, the students experienced all of this while working on a research project that culminated in a research report, a PowerPoint presentation and poster of that research, a cultural report, and webpages of the totality of their experiences.. Collectively, these experiences combined to create individuals who developed an increased understanding of the Chinese culture, which gives them an edge when looking into graduate schools and furthering their STEM careers. Further solidifying our partnership with NFU has led to the inclusion of a Confucius Institute on the AAMU campus, which is scheduled for Spring 2015. The first Chinese language and cultural classes were offered fall 2014, with the first exchange students from NFU (2) here for the 2014-2015 year. The establishment (not yet formal) of a dual degree and opportunities for students to study 1-2 semesters at NFU are also a result of this magnificent partnership.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1063101
Program Officer
Sophie George
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-09-01
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2010
Total Cost
$323,069
Indirect Cost
Name
Alabama A&M University
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Normal
State
AL
Country
United States
Zip Code
35762