By Becca Burke
The National Science Foundation is partnering with Boise State University to provide students a unique opportunity for hands-on raptor research. Boise State is the only university in the country to offer a master’s degree in raptor biology.
The Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in Raptor Research, or REU-RR, is now in its third year. Eight undergraduate students from around the country are accepted to spend 10 weeks conducting field and laboratory research under the mentorship of raptor research scientists from academia, government and nongovernment organizations. The program culminates in a statewide undergraduate research conference.
Research is conducted across Idaho and includes a variety of raptor species, including projects on owls, hawks, eagles, ospreys and falcons.
The majority of projects in the REU program are focused on the ecology, evolution and behavior of raptors, generally in their natural environment, said Dr. Jim Belthoff, professor of biological sciences and principal investigator.
The REU-RR program builds upon the expertise of Boise State’s raptor biology program and Raptor Research Center, and brings national exposure through partnerships with The Peregrine Fund, Intermountain Bird Observatory, College of Western Idaho and the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area.
“There are a lot of students looking for these opportunities, and research has shown that these programs are beneficial and help students decide that science is for them,” said Belthoff. “Our country needs more scientists to face all the challenges of the future.”