SUPER Program at Au Sable

Summer Undergraduate Preparation in Environmental Research


The SUPER program is designed to prepare sophomore or junior students for upper-level requirements in environmental research at their home college, including senior capstones, or for external competitive research programs such as the Au Sable Undergraduate Research Program or the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

The SUPER program is a comprehensive 13-week program that includes 16 college credits of field coursework at the Au Sable Great Lakes campus and 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 include lakes, ponds, bogs, hardwood and pine forests. Typical taxonomic groups may include woody or herbaceous plants, aquatic or terrestrial invertebrates and insects, or selected vertebrates.

Because the SUPER program provides the preparation for research, no specific research experience is required; however, students should meet the following prerequisites: 

  • 1 year of general biology,
  • 1 semester of ecology or environmental science, and
  • 1 semester of introductory statistics or approval of instructor.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Successful completion prepares students for the Au Sable Certified Naturalist – Field Naturalist Certification through one of four different course pathways. Depending on student background, previous courses at their home college and taxonomic interest, students will choose from the following courses:

May (3 wks) – one course from: Field Biology or Insect Ecology of Streams, Forests, and Fields

Summer I (5 wks) – Research Methods I and one course from: Field Botany, Aquatic Biology, Animal Ecology, Conservation Biology or Land Resources

Summer II (5wks) – Research Methods II and Environmental Applications for GIS, Restoration Ecology or Wildlife Ecology

At Home College – Ecology or Plant Taxonomy


Research Fellowship

Each student selected to the SUPER program receives a Research Fellowship of US $3,600 to help offset the costs of the course tuition.


2018 Focus Taxonomic Groups

The current focus of the research in the SUPER program is a biodiversity survey of “overlooked” organisms in the habitats near Au Sable, which include lakes, ponds, bogs, hardwood and pine forests. In the process of their training, SUPER students will learn to observe, identify and quantify species presence and abundance in a variety of habitats.  Only then can we make informed decisions about con-serving, protecting, or restoring these species and habitats, thus helping to fulfill Au Sable’s mission “to serve, protect, and restore God’s earth.”

Students will typically choose from one of the following groups as their research focus:

herbaceous understory plants, shrubs, deciduous trees, coniferous trees, aquatic macrophytes, zooplankton, aquatic macroinvertebrates, dragonflies and damselflies, butterflies and moths, flies, beetles, bees and wasps, and arachnids.


Application and Deadline

Application information for the SUPER program is available by clicking here

All application materials should be submitted via e-mail (preferred) at the same time by the Au Sable Faculty Representative to the office at the Great Lakes Campus.  Review of applications will begin on February 1, 2018 and will continue as space is available.  Students will be notified of their status on a rolling basis beginning February 15.

Students are encouraged, but not required, to be enrolled in Au Sable classes prior to their application for the program.  It is strongly suggested that students discuss their research interests and their plans for specific courses with Brian Keas (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), Director of Educational Development, prior to enrolling to properly prepare for completing the Field Naturalist Certification as part of the SUPER program.