Research Program

The Au Sable Undergraduate Research Program is designed to address pressing questions in ecology, conservation, and restoration; serve local environmental agencies and organizations with informed data, and prepare students as scientists by involving them in laboratory and field research. By partnering with local non-governmental organizations and government agencies, Au Sable advances scientific understanding using foundational and cutting-edge modes of inquiry and helps decision-makers make informed plans to advance environmental stewardship.

Advancing Scientific Knowledge

The Au Sable research program takes up projects that further our scientific understanding of ecology, conservation, and ecological restoration. In recent years, Au Sable researchers have advanced our scientific understanding of stream restoration following dam removal, a critical issue in watersheds throughout Michigan, the United States and the world; shoreline restoration following removal of Phragmites australis (common reed), an invasive species affecting wetlands throughout the eastern United States; and genetic diversity and gene flow in critically threatened species such as Cirsium pitcheri (pitcher's thistle).

Serving Local Communities

Au Sable's research advances scientific knowledge while also informing local environmental projects by non-government organizations and government agencies throughout northwest lower Michigan. In recent years, Au Sable's applied research has served the Conservation Resource Allian, Trout Unlimited, Grand Traverse Conservation District, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, the Watershed Center, and Blue Lake Association. Au Sable looks for local partners to have a local impact.

Teaching Research Skills

At the heart of Au Sable's research program is the desire to train future scientists to discover new things about the natural world and how we can best care for it. Research faculty mentor and guide our research students throughout their summer research, inculcating knowledge and skills about how research is done. The research program enhances student skills in scientific methodology; research design, data gathering and analysis; and in both written and oral presentations. Students work with Au Sable faculty to design and execute their research plan, making them part of an academic community offering scientific collaboration and interdependence among professional scientists and research students.