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We will follow a cohort model where students will work in small teams and move through the phases of the program together.  Specifically, we have found that pairing students with complementary academic backgrounds provides significant advantages in interdisciplinary projects; however, there will be significant interactions among the pairs of students due to the shared intellectual focus of the ongoing projects.  All participants will share research lab space, attend weekly cohort meetings, attend weekly research training sessions, and participate in a weekly seminar series.  Faculty mentors will accompany the students to all collaborative meetings.  

Before coming to the REU Site

Students will be informed about the project they will be working on, and they will be added to a mailing list, where they will be provided with preliminary background knowledge on the related research topic, payroll forms, liability waivers, information about the dorms, the campus, and the town.

Week 1: Orientation and getting acclimated.

We will devote the first day of orientation to familiarize the students with each other, the mentors, safety issues, and the facilities.  In addition to the mentors, scientists from Hollings Marine Laboratory, Grice Marine Laboratory, NOAA, and MUSC will introduce themselves and their projects.  Students will then participate in team building exercises with faculty mentors, receive a tour of the campuses, and finish the day with a cookout at Dr. Anderson’s house.  The second day of orientation will be devoted to introducing students to the research fundamentals, including topic identification, development, literature search, critical analysis, task management, experimental design, and result dissemination.  We dedicate the result of the week to introducing the ongoing research topics to the entire cohort with presentations, background reading, and carefully designed introductory tasks.  This allows us to access areas of expertise and weaknesses that can be addresses during the next phase of the REU.

Week 2 – 4: Background exploration and skill development. 

The students will read survey papers related to their research area and explore the problems and previously proposed solutions/approaches to those problems.  They will compile their findings in the form of a short survey paper.  We will also supplement this reading and increase the student’s engagement by working on carefully crafted open research questions that will develop confidence.

Week 5 – 9: Transforming from dependent to independent investigator. 

Building upon their confidence in the previous three weeks, students will begin work on more open-ended research questions that have less defined structure.  Students will be encouraged to pursue their own ideas in collaboration with the mentors and develop solutions that further the state-of-the-art.  Students will conduct experiments, and write their solution and findings in a formal report.

Week 10: Finishing touches. 

The students will combine their survey paper with their research report to prepare one complete article for the annual REU Site proceedings publication, which will be given to each student and used for recruiting in following years.  Outstanding work will be submitted to a suitable conference or journal.  The students will also give oral presentations to the local scientific community.