SIUE STEM Center National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates

NSF REU Site: Exploring Evidence of the Anthropocene
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, announced the third year of a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site, Exploring Evidence of the Anthropocene: Archaeological and Ecological Interdisciplinary Research Experiences for First Generation Students in the Upper Mississippi River System (NSF Award No.1659633). This REU site offered ten students experiential, interdisciplinary research opportunities in archaeological and ecological sciences addressing topics related to the onset of the Anthropocene. Students examined research questions related to deep-time environmental dynamics in the Upper Mississippi River System and changing environmental conditions by comparing data on fish communities and populations from both archaeological collections and modern samples. This eight week program included five weeks of field research and data collection in both archaeology and ecology.

The final three weeks included integrating archaeological and ecological datasets to make meaningful inferences about the Anthropocene. REU participants left the program having generated and presented an original research poster while gaining practical research experiences. Students were also able to earn up to 6 credit hours for participation in the program from SIUE at in-state tuition rates.

Archaeology and ecology students worked in interdisciplinary teams and as an entire cohort to integrate human-environmental data and gain authentic experiences working as a research team. Not only did students learn new approaches to research, they also met students from across the country with similar interests. This research experience was intellectually rewarding, and fun! When asked about their overall experience of this REU site, 2017 participants commented, “I loved it and would definitely recommend this to people interested in research” and “[This was] overall [an] amazing experience, life changing, thank you.”