research team mentor

Principal Investigator
Susan Flowers, MA
Education and Outreach Coordinator, Tyson Research Center

Research focus for summer 2019

At Tyson, we have embraced the apprenticeship model and provide enthusiastic pre-college and undergraduate students with hands-on mentored research experiences in the natural and environmental sciences. The Shaw Institute for Field Training (SIFT), Tyson Environmental Research Fellowships (TERF), and Tyson Undergraduate Fellows programs form a three-stage educational progression designed for authentic environmental research career exploration. There are specific curricula for each program and there are also many logistical challenges and behind-the-scenes supports necessary for the summer field season to run smoothly for our program participants and mentoring scientists. We make sure that a summer spent at Tyson is a positive learning experience for all.

During summer 2019, the Tyson education fellow will work closely on development, coordination, and facilitation of activities for participants in all three Tyson programs. We will provide teaching support to educators at Shaw Nature Reserve during the SIFT training week and coordinate SIFT work days at Tyson. We will support the on-boarding and integration of TERFers and undergrads into their Tyson research teams and facilitate the weekly 90-minute TERF and undergrad colloquia. The fellow will organize an overnight for the undergrads and there may also be some outreach to Tyson tour groups and Endangered Wolf Center teen campers. Throughout the summer there will be opportunity for development and field testing of lesson plans, further development of scientific communication and teaching skills, and networking with educators at multiple institutions.


The Tyson education fellow will participate in a variety of activities in support of the educational programming at our environmental field station:

  • Lesson plan and educational materials development

  • Teaching and facilitation of small group discussion

  • Near-peer mentoring

  • Detailed direct communications

  • Assessment and evaluation

  • Photography and blogging

  • Management of transportation logistics

  • Coordination and facilitation of large group events

Much of the office-based work will be performed using Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), GroupMe, Blogger, Facebook, and email.

Program assessment and evaluation will be performed using exit slips, repeated climate surveys, small group discussion, interviews, and observations.

The fellow is expected to drive one of the Tyson carpool vehicles for daily transportation of undergrads and TERFers. A Missouri Class E license (or other state equivalent), clean driving record, and years of driving experience is required.

research conditions

Over the course of the 11 weeks, the Tyson education fellow may spend as much as 60% of the time working indoors, and much of that time working at a computer. The ability to work independently and self motivate is very important. However, supportive social interaction is also crucial and we will eat lunch outside with the Tyson community on a daily basis.

While a lot of behind-the-scenes work takes place indoors, there are specific program components that take place in the field and spontaneous field excursions are common. Work out in the field will include exposure to extreme heat, humidity, sun, and hazards like steep and rocky terrain, ticks, mosquitoes, and poison ivy.

Team structure and opportunities for independent research

The Tyson education fellow will work closely with Susan Flowers on required program components, usually meeting together on a daily basis. There will likely be a lot of going back and forth on document drafts, discussion of participants' ongoing experiences, and also time alone at the computer. Interfacing with Tyson Director Kim Medley and other Tyson staff will be common as we work together to support the Tyson summer research community.

There will be time to explore new ideas and develop an independent project if desired. This could take the form of a new educational activity, analysis of specific evaluation data, development of a publicly accessible science communication piece, interpretive signage, etc. (We anticipate spending some time with the Tyson Humanities Fellows and Suzanne Loui on their science communication projects.) Some previous Tyson education fellows have presented posters of their work at the Washington University Undergraduate Research Symposium and support for this will be provided.