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Contact Info:

Daniela Shebitz

Office: C-317
(908) 737-3645








The Kean University REU Experience - Costa Rica and New Jersey

The Research Experiences For Undergraduates (REU) program at Kean University provides international experience and training for 8 students per year for 10 weeks (6 weeks in Costa Rica and 4 weeks in New Jersey) during the summer of 2014-2015.

Students will receive $5,000 for the 10 weeks and have all travel and living expenses paid in Costa Rica and New Jersey, as well as their travel costs to the Mid-Atlantic ESA conference for presentation of their data the following year.

This REU project will have students conduct research as part of an international team of scientists from Kean University, the Centro Cientifico Tropical and Instituto Biologica Nacional to study the undamaged, damaged, or at-risk habitats in Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge (MNWLR), a new conservation area, in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica.

Students will assess if patterns/indicators of change in vegetation, invertebrate, primate, soil microbial community structures, biogeochemical, and/or ecological characteristics can be observed by habitat, management strategy, and/or atmospheric condition.

Students will develop an understanding of the connections between land use, biodiversity and ecosystem function; present their work at a regional ESA conference and submit manuscripts to journals.

Students will also have a value-added cultural experience working for several days with the local community in the village of Boca Tapada.


Application Deadline

Deadline for applications is February 15, 2014. Students will be informed of our decision by March 1, 2014.


Minimum Requirements

Students should have a minimum of 3.2 GPA out of 4.0 although we will consider students who show by other measures that they are exceptional and who have GPAs over 3.0. Class standing and grades in specific subjects that are close to the field of research will also be considered, as are recommendations.

Application Process

Students will be chosen based on a holistic perspective that includes transcripts, GPA, an essay on why they want to work in the program, their goals as future scientists, how they think they will benefit from this program, what other research opportunities may exist at their home institution, and two letters of recommendation.

Examples of Publications

Forest Structure, Nutrients, and Pentaclethra macroloba Growth after Deforestation of Costa Rican Lowland Forests 

The Effects of the N-Fixing Tree Pentaclethra macroloba on the Above and Below Ground Communities Within a Primary Forest in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica

Characterization of soil ecosystems in Costa Rica using microbial community metrics

The impact of Pentaclethra macroloba on soil microbial nitrogen fixing communities and nutrients within developing secondary forests in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica

Implications of land management on soil microbial communities and nutrient cycle dynamics in the lowland tropical forest of northern Costa Rica

Fungal inhibition by Bromelia pinguin (Bromeliaceae) and its effect on nutrient cycle dynamics

Interactions between populations of Rhizobium, Methanotrophs and Archaea in two different lowland tropical forest soil communities

Differences in soil moisture, nutrients and the microbial community between forests on the upper Pacific and Caribbean slopes at Monteverde, Cordillera de Tilaran: implications for responses to climate change

The Effects of the Conversion of a Primary to a Secondary Tropical Lowland Forest on Bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) Foraging Behavior in Costa Rica: A Possible Indicator of Ecosystem Condition

The effects of moisture levels on carbon biomass and fungal community structure in soil ecosystems within the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

Inhibitory effects of Bromelia pinguin (Bromeliaceae) on soil ecosystems in primary forests of Costa Rica

Effects of Land Management and Habitat Type on Organic Carbon (C) and Nitrogen (N) Content and Biomass, and Abundance and Diversity of Soil Fungal and Non-Fungal Eukarya in a Tropical Lowland Region of Costa Rica