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REU Program

Providing students with opportunities to conduct cutting edge research in ecology for 33 years.

Applications for 2020 now open.

Program Dates: May 20 - August 7, 2020

As part of the application process, you must register with the National Science Foundation (NSF) program. If you do not already have an account, please create one here:, and if you do have an account, please login here: Be sure to take note of the REU ID assigned to you, as you will be required to specify it on your application to the Cary REU program

Translational Ecology for Undergraduates

Our alumni report that their Cary REU experience was instrumental in their career success, whether it be in academic ecology as professors or research scientists, in environmental management or consulting, in ecology education, or another field. REU students contribute to the mission of the Institute through their research, with most writing papers for the Cary REU Program Scientific on-line publications, and many co-authoring peer-reviewed articles based on their work.

Since 2011 the Cary REU program has embraced a new focus – Translational Ecology. We hope to train a new generation of environmental scientists who are both prepared and motivated to translate ecological science to the public. 

REU students 2018.

The Cary Translational Ecology REU program weaves together activities in 5 strands:

Cutting Edge Independent Research Projects 

Working closely with a mentor scientist, students delineate a research question and hypotheses, develop and implement a project, analyze data, give an oral presentation in a formal symposium and write a paper. Skill building workshops support student learning. The bulk of students’ time is spent in this facet of the program.

Reflective Practice and Training Activities

Students participate in scientific writing workshops, statistics/R workshops, responsible conduct of research trainings, and sessions in asking good questions, applying theory in research, giving effective talks, and future options in work and study.

The Forum on Translational Ecology showcases examples of translational ecology in action, as well as a diversity of professional role models and careers. Students are supported in reflecting on themselves as scientists and translators of science.

Translational Ecology Activities

Students explore translation of ecology through:


With mentoring, students write short "elevator pitches" about their research, participate in a Communication Workshop where they hone their pitches for different audiences, and write lay-friendly summaries of their findings.


Students consider the rich ways that their own research might influence society with applications to policy and management, and how society influences their science. 


REU students teach younger students in the Sharing Science Program, and participate in an Education Roundtable with education scholars and practitioners.  

Students in the 2020 program will receive a stipend of $6,600, housing in the Bacon Flats dormitory

located on our campus just next door to the research and administration building where students conduct much of their work, and a food allowance of $900 for the 12 week program.

Students of diverse backgrounds come from all parts of the country to participate in the program, and a small pool of funds is available to help defray the costs of travel to the program for those students in need of assistance.

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