Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) provide early opportunities to undergrads to participate in scientific research. CUREs allow students to get hands-on experience in the process of scientific discovery, which increases students interest in science, helps them decide if they want to pursue research careers, increases confidence in their ability to do science, and promotes early participation in the scientific community through publication, conference presentation, and more. A hallmark of a CURE course is that students participate in all aspects of a research project from asking questions, proposing hypothesis, making predictions, selecting tools for visualization, data processing and statistical analysis, to communicating findings. All this while learning to navigate the messiness of the real-world data! Regardless of your ultimate career goals, participation in a CURE will help you to develop skills in interpretation of results and establishing solid arguments (Corwin et al. 2014). For more information about CUREs, go to CUREnet: https://serc.carleton.edu/curenet/index.html
My goal is to engage undergraduate students in topics I work on: marine soundscape ecology, marine animal bioacoustics, and cetacean ecology, behavior, and conservation. For this CURE, students will work on projects related to two topics. Topic I involves the use of sound as a tool to study marine communities, the vocal repertoire of marine species, and human impacts on wild populations. Topic II involves the use of traditional photo-identification methods in dolphins to study association patterns and population size (more details below).
- To offer the opportunity to make discoveries and contributions to the scientific community, policy-makers, and the public.
- Engage students in all aspects of research: literature reading and discussion, asking questions that can be answered during the semester, collecting, processing, and analyzing data, learning how to interpret analytical results and how to communicate the results.
- Create an environment that promotes active collaboration and contributions among students and instructor during the semester through problem solving and analysis.
- Learn that science is not about eureka moments! Good science takes time, involves failure, troubleshooting, discussions, re-evaluations, and yes frustration. Good science is always challenging at different levels, from collecting the data to its analysis.
- Learn that there is not a single “right” way to do science! Different questions, systems,or species will require different approaches. For example, some research questions rely on well-planned experimental designs involving multiple controls. My research is field based and correlative, which is bound to be limited by replication, sample size, lack of controls (because they are impossible to have!), and logistics. However, field-based projects are essential for our understanding of our biological world, and are often the spark for more controlled experimental studies.