Field Biology Programs at UNDERC for Summer 2020

Author: Michael Cramer

Applications are now being accepted for UNDERC Summer 2020 programs. These programs promote understanding of field biology and how field research is conducted through 10 weeks in the wilds. It begins with a summer at UNDERC-East in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and then the opportunity for a second summer at -West in Montana. UNDERC-East is open to 28 sophomores/juniors from any college/university. Once students complete the UNDERC-East program, they are eligible for a second summer at UNDERC-West (class size: 8). Each summer, participants receive three-credits and a stipend. UNDERC provides tuition, housing, travel between the Notre Dame campus and the site. Also, UNDERC covers all project supply costs up to $500.


UNDERC students measure stream flow as part of the Aquatic Ecology module.

UNDERC-East (May 18 – July 24): 8000 acres of lakes, streams, wetlands, and forests owned by Notre Dame and a core site in the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) that are home to abundant wildlife (including beaver, porcupine, black bear, deer, loon). Program modules include Vertebrate Ecology, Invertebrate Ecology, Aquatic Ecology and Forest Ecology with each providing background information, field research exercises, and group research projects designed by the class. Five or more weeks are spent by each student designing and conducting their own field research project with the assistance of faculty or graduate student mentors. Projects have ranged from fish, insect and mammal behavior and ecology to forest, lake and stream ecosystem ecology to local Native American ecosystem use. Stipend = $5000

West Student3

UNDERC-West (June 6 – August 14): More than a million acres on the National Bison Range and Flathead Reservation that includes grasslands, montane forests, streams and lakes that are home to abundant wildlife (including bison, elk, bighorn, and pronghorn). The program includes modules in Wildlife and Grassland Ecology, Montane Ecology, and Environmental History/Native American Ecology (in part during the cross-country drive to and from –West). Each student conducts an independent research project in collaboration with a faculty or graduate student mentor that is more advanced given the skills learned at UNDERC-East. Recent projects have included invasive plant ecology, animal behavior and habitat relationships, grassland, forest, wetland and stream dynamics, and Native American plant and wildlife use. Stipend = $5500


UNDERC students conducting grasshopper research with their mentor.

Applications are available online ( Further information can be obtained at the UNDERC website, or from Dr. Michael Cramer, UNDERC East Assistant Director (, or Dr. David Flagel, UNDERC West Assistant Director ( 


Application deadline is Friday, November 8, 2019. Notification of acceptance will be provided by Monday, December 9, 2019. Acceptance is based on past academic performance and a statement of purpose. Preference is given to students pursuing a career in ecology or environmental science. Applicants are required to be present for the duration of course.