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.


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, instilling 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.

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 how to best reforest abandoned oil pads in northern Michigans forests, and understand why they do not reforest naturally. Au Sable Researchers have been studying the nesting habits of the Kirtland's warbler an endangered species in Michigan and habitat specialist to Jack Pine forests. As well, an Au Sable Research team has begun studying the habitat suitability for the reintroduction of the Grayling in local rivers of northern Michigan.

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 and partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Technical University, Trout Unlimited, and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.  Au Sable looks for local partners to have a local impact.


For students with little or no research experience, the Summer Undergraduate Preparation in Environmental Research (SUPER) program offers a comprehensive 13-week schedule that includes 16 college credits of field coursework at the Au Sable Great Lakes campus, guided research instruction culminating in an independent research project focused on a biodiversity survey of a taxonomic group in the habitats near Au Sable, which includes lakes, ponds, bogs, hardwood and pine forests. Successful completion also prepares students for the Au Sable Certified Naturalist - Field Naturalist Certification. The SUPER program is designed to prepare sophomore or junior students for upper-level requirements in environmental research programs such as the Au Sable Undergraduate Research Program or the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates.