Under development -- please share but do not cite -- draft 16 September


5. Broader Impacts

  • 5.1 Encouraging diversity in STEM
    For our undergraduate teams, we will recruit students from historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges, and community colleges. We will recruit high school teams in partnership with the Young Scholars Program, which has a strong record of recruiting minority students to STEM research.

    Four of our initial field stations are in EPSCoR states. As our network grows, we will strongly encourage participation from field stations and students at schools in these and other EPSCoR states.

  • 5.2 Building skills in ecology research
    Students will learn the importance of adherence to rigorous protocols for collecting reliable data. To assist high school students with science fair projects, we will set up web pages and provide technical support. Faculty mentors will oversee undergraduates in the completion and presentation of an independent project at the end of their term. Undergraduate students will each adopt a small taxonomic group in which they will gain expertise, using our online identification guides under the mentorship of taxonomic experts.

    By paying students rather than relying on volunteer data collectors, we will provide student jobs. Students will gain confidence, earn respect from their peers, and be able to envision science research as a viable career path.

  • 5.1.3 Tools for field stations and land managers
    Field stations and other sites that join our network will benefit from our identification guides and checklists. The guides will help researchers at those sites work in areas outside their area of expertise. Our identification guides will provide sites with environmental education tools for outreach to the local community.

    Our inventories will alert site managers to the presence of invasive species so that they can respond rapidly and minimize further invasions. By comparing checklists across sites and integrating field data with air quality and other data, land managers can better predict and plan how their local species may respond to factors such as pollution and land use.

  • 5.1.4 Data sharing
    We will make all data publicly and freely available via Discover Life and GBIF. It is our vision that the data and web tools will be heavily used by other researchers and students outside the network. Thus, we will provide opportunities for many other research projects besides the ones with whom we have direct contact and whose work we can measure.

  • 5.1.5 Building capacity for large scale ecological research
    Our methods implement a new paradigm for collecting data on species and their interactions. Until now, it has been almost impossible to assemble the large data sets necessary to answer large-scale environmental questions. For over two decades, the PI has been developing and testing technology and protocols needed by biologists who wish to work at a regional or continental scale. We will train network participants to use these powerful methods. Beyond that it is our vision that the network, its technology, and methods will grow far beyond our initial network and will become widely accepted as a methodology for working on local- to global-scale ecology.

6. Collaborator Contributions