The SMURF Independent Research Program is a year-long course that supports students interested in conducting independent research projects (e.g. senior theses) pertaining to small mammals. The program will be strongly based in conducting fieldwork and data collection (once a quarter 3-day intensive capture-release trapping sessions), but will also provide structure for developing, conducting, and producing independent research projects investigating small mammal ecology, physiology, etc.

Former SMURF interns have investigated questions related to niche partitioning, habitat use, and parasite & pathogen dynamics in small mammals. For more information on these projects, please visit our SMURF research page.

Desired Skills:

  • Ability to work outdoors
  • Data entry, management, and analyses
  • Interest in graduate school

Program Overview:

Fall Q (2 unit): Intro to SMURF

Interns will be trained in all things related to small mammal research, including a 4-day intensive small mammal trapping session, data collection, data entry & management. We will read and discuss primary literature on small mammal ecology. In addition, interns will explore current FERP data, and develop a research question with associated hypotheses/predictions.

Winter Q (5 unit): Independent Research

Interns will design an independent research project in addition to conducting the quarterly small mammal trapping census. Interns will research primary literature related to their research question. Interns will write a grant (regardless of whether funding is required) that includes a background to their research, the research question, hypotheses/predictions, methods, and anticipated results. Interns will also receive instruction on data management, analyses and visualization using program R.

Spring Q (5 unit): Data Analysis and Writing (BIOE 183W & L)

Interns will take BIOE3 W & L, which will provide a structure for writing a scientific paper based on their independent research. Graduate mentors will assist interns with data analyses and visualization. Interns will continue to participate in quarterly small mammal trapping census, and train new incoming interns.

How to Apply:

Fill out an application and email it to Tina Cheng (

Applications will be accepted until September 30, 2016.