Living Earth Collaborative Summer Undergraduate Research Award

About the Program

The Living Earth CollaborativeTM at Washington University in St. Louis is dedicated to advancing the knowledge of biodiversity and to ensuring the future of earth’s species in their many forms. Washington University, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the St. Louis Zoo, and other St. Louis institutions offer a variety of research opportunities to undergraduate students that allow students to study and conserve biodiversity, regionally and around the world.

In collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research, students may apply for a Summer Undergraduate Research Award of $4000 to conduct 10 weeks of full-time biodiversity research with a WashU Faculty Living Earth Collaborative Biodiversity Fellow or Post-doc.


  • Open to all continuing WashU undergraduate students.
  • For research related to biodiversity, its study and conservation, regionally and around the world.
  • Applicants must be nominated by their research mentor, who must be a WashU Faculty Living Earth Collaborative Biodiversity Fellow or Living Earth Collaborative Post-doc. If a student is working with a Biodiversity Fellow who is not a WashU Faculty member, a WashU Faculty member must co-nominate and co-mentor the student.

Award Expectations

  1. Awardees must participate in the Office of Undergraduate Research’s Workshop on Research Ethics in early May or mid-June.
  2. Awardees must present their work at the Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  3. Awardees must submit an end of summer award report following completion of their research experience—due first day of classes in August.
  4. Awardees may not ENROLL in or TA any class during the time of their research and may not engage in any outside employment during that period.

Submission Guidelines

It is the student’s responsibility to provide the mentor with all necessary forms and required documents to complete their nomination. A complete nomination file (all components due by March 1) includes the following:

  • Mentor Nomination Form (Please provide nomination form link to your mentor.)
  • Second letter of recommendation (Submitted by email to
  • Student Submission Form (See link below.)
  • Research Proposal: You are responsible for authoring your 1-2 page double-spaced research proposal. It should include:
    • Introduction: The introduction should provide the background and give the motivation for the proposed project. Discuss the relationship of your project to the ongoing work of your mentor. State your hypothesis where applicable.
    • Project Description: This section should specifically describe what you will do and how you will do it.  Describe your method of inquiry and outline resources you will need.
    • Expected Outcome: Describe data you expect to collect and possible interpretations and  implications. 

The proposal may include citations (any standard notation format is acceptable), but citations are NOT required. You may ask your research mentor for feedback on your proposal, but you, as the applicant, must be the primary author. Please see the WashU Undergraduate Student Academic Integrity Policy for details on plagarism and collaboration for guidance as your prepare your proposal.

NOTE: Some projects may not fit within the above format for writing the proposal, but will still qualify for support. Examples of this type of project are: methods development or acquiring preliminary data that will allow for formulation of hypotheses.

Your research proposal should be as specific as you can make it. It should outline what you plan to do and why it is important or will be useful. It should contain an outline of the theoretical and experimental techniques. It should state how the work fits into the context of the research in the field.

Again, though your mentor and/or others in the lab should review your research proposal and make editorial and scientific suggestions, THE PROPOSAL MUST BE WRITTEN BY YOU, THE STUDENT.

Once you have collected all of the packet components, including your proposal, you're ready for the next step. 

Student Submission Form