The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered many university research labs because campuses are closed, and faculty and students lack productive ways of working remotely. This presents major difficulties for students who need research opportunities to fulfill their intellectual growth potential and their undergraduate research and thesis requirements. Without research experiences, undergraduates may be less competitive for future jobs and graduate programs. Similarly, faculty need research avenues to advance their academic careers while maintaining physically distant protocols. We outline here a budget-friendly, COVID-friendly, adaptable protocol that aims to introduce students to the wildlife research opportunities surrounding their campus or home through observation and literature research. Student researchers learn the scientific method by getting first-hand experience with an original research project. The pedagogical goals include designing a study: defining a question or proposing a hypothesis, collecting, organizing, and analyzing data, and sharing results in the form of posters, theses, informal educational materials, and scientific publications. This protocol is flexible to allow for different budgets, opportunities, and constraints. The researchers monitor different locations using trail cameras to determine which species are present around campus or even students' homes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when it is likely there will be few in-person meetings, this protocol offers students the opportunity to carry out research with limited or no in-person meetings, and it can be run remotely by sharing the data collected. In this paper, we provide instructions, details, and student handouts for instructors to help implement this research project.
Recommended CitationTripepi, Manuela and Landberg, Tobias, "Undergraduate Research in the Time of COVID-19: A Remote Imaging Protocol for Physically Distanced Students Studying Wildlife." (2021). College of Life Sciences Faculty Papers. Paper 10.
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