Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, announce the first year of a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site, Exploring Evidence of the Anthropocene: Archaeological and Ecological Interdisciplinary Research Experiences for First Generation Students in the Upper Mississippi River System (NSF Award No.1659633). This REU site will offer students experiential, interdisciplinary research opportunities in archaeological and ecological sciences addressing topics related to the onset of the Anthropocene. Students will examine research questions related to deep-time environmental dynamics in the Upper Mississippi River System and changing environmental conditions. This eight week program will include five weeks of field research and data collection in both archaeology and ecology. The final three weeks will include integrating archaeological and ecological datasets to make meaningful inferences about the Anthropocene. REU participants will leave the program having generated and presented an original research poster while gaining practical research experiences.


The program will run from June 5 to July 28, 2017. Participants are expected to be present for the entire run of the program.


REU students will receive a weekly stipend of $500 per week (i.e., $4,000 for eight weeks). Housing accommodations will be provided for participants at no cost. Students will be responsible for their travel to and from Edwardsville for the start and end of the program. Students will also receive $300 in travel funds to present their research at the Mississippi River Research Consortium in the spring of 2018. Students will need to provide their own food (housing includes a shared, full kitchen and several grocery stores and dining facilities will be available to students). Students will also receive local transportation to and from various field and laboratory settings.


The goal of this REU is for participants to improve their proficiencies in scientific literacy and communication, interdisciplinary analysis, research writing, critical thinking, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills through an immersive research experience. Throughout the program, students will also gain experiences in archaeological experimental design and will conduct a team-based project focused on the comparison of archaeological and modern stable isotope ecology and trends in fish growth patterns. The following outlines the tentative weekly schedule.

Week 1: Students will focus on scientific theory and method and will be introduced to the ecology and archaeology of the Upper Mississippi River System. All students will receive an introduction to archaeological and ecological field work and safety training involved in field research. Students will form interdisciplinary research teams and begin to explore potential research topics.

Weeks 2-3: Students will gain practical experience in archaeological excavations and laboratory procedures, while also conducting fish population monitoring. Non-destructive sampling methods will include boat electrofishing, fyke netting, and hoop-netting.

Weeks 4-5: Working with comparative skeletal materials housed at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, students will learn zooarchaeological methods. Students will also learn how to analyze and process ecological data they have collected in the field.

Weeks 6-7:  Working in interdisciplinary teams, participants will summarize, analyze, and interpret data they collected along with data from long-term regional databases and monitoring programs.

Week 8: During the final week, students will produce an original research contribution to our understanding of the timing and scope of the Anthropocene. Students will create a research poster presented to regional scholars and researchers on the final day of the REU. This poster will also be presented at the Mississippi River Research Consortium in spring 2018.


While participating in this REU site, students will reside in dormitory facilities on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s campus, Edwardsville, IL. Archaeological field work will be conducted at the Gehring site, a multicomponent habitation site most intensely occupied by Native Americans during the Middle Woodland (50 cal. B.C. – A.D. 250) and Mississippian (cal. A. D. 1000 – 1300) periods. Ecological sampling will be conducted in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Laboratory analysis will be conducted at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Department of Anthropology Laboratory and the Great River Field Station in Alton, IL.

Who Can Apply

We seek applicants exiting their freshman or sophomore year of undergraduate studies. We will specifically facilitate education and career development content for first generation college students (students with neither parent completing a four-year degree upon entering college). Students who are first generation college students are strongly encouraged to apply: preferences will be given to these students; however, applications from non-first generation students are also encouraged and will be fully considered.

Applicants should have an interest in interdisciplinary research spanning archaeology and ecology. Although students will engage mostly in archaeological and ecological research, undergraduates with interest in biology, biochemistry, environmental sciences, fisheries sciences, wildlife management, natural resources, anthropology, geology, and paleosciences will greatly benefit from the offered educational and career development programming. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States and pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. Students should have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (out of 4.0). Students graduating in the spring or summer of 2017 are not eligible for this REU site. Applicants should also be able to swim and conduct outdoor work under adverse conditions, such as very hot, humid temperatures.

How to Apply

The application includes: 1) application, online form or pdf form, (Please note that you do not need to submit both the online and pdf form. Submit the one that is most convenient for you.), 2) statement of interest, 3) unofficial transcript, and 4) two letters of recommendation.

  1. The application form can be found online or as a pdf. After completing the application form, you will need to send your statement of interest and unofficial transcript to ude.euisnull@inalocc. Applications will not be considered until all application documents are received.
  2. Applicants should provide a statement of interest that speaks to the applicant’s main research interest specific to this program, career goals, and expected benefits from REU participation (please limit to 2 pages).
  3. An unofficial copy of transcripts from their current academic institution.
  4. Applicants also should have two referrers submit letters of recommendation that speak to the applicant’s ability to work in a challenging, immersive learning environment. One letter of recommendation must come from the student’s lead mentor at their current college or university. REU site leadership will be communicating with this lead mentor before the start of the program and once the summer research project is complete.

Applicants should directly email their statement of interest and unofficial transcripts to ude.euisnull@inalocc. Letters of recommendation should be sent by the recommender directly to ude.euisnull@inalocc.

Direct mailings can be sent to:

Dr. Carol E. Colaninno
Campus Box 2224
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Edwardsville, IL 62026

Submission Deadline

All components of the application should be submitted by Monday, April 17, 2017 by 5:00 pm CST. You will receive notification when your application is received and complete.

Program Faculty

Dr. Carol E. Colaninno (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Center for STEM Education, Research, and Outreach) Research Interest: Long-term human-environmental interactions, zooarchaeology, public archeology, STEM education.

Dr. John H. Chick (University of Illinois, Illinois Natural History Survey, Great Rivers Field Station) Research Interest: Long-term ecological research, river ecology, community ecology, invasive species, habitat restoration, fish and zooplankton.

Dr. Andrew F. Casper (University of Illinois, Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois River Biological Station) Research Interest: Rivers, watersheds, ecohydrology, floodplains, food webs, community ecology.

Dr. Sergiusz J. Czesny (University of Illinois, Illinois Natural History Survey, Lake Michigan Biological Station) Research Interest: Ecology and ecophysiology, ecosystem scale trophic interactions, population dynamics, early life history of fish.

Dr. James T. Lamer (Western Illinois University, Kibbe Field Station) Research Interest: Aquatic systems, aquatic invasive species, fish hybridization, fish population genetics, stream and large river ecology, long-term ecological monitoring.

Dr. Corey S. Ragsdale (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Department of Anthropology) Research Interest: Bioarchaeology, migratory patterns, skeletal and dental variation, past health and violence, Mesoamerica, American Southwest

Dr. Julie A. Zimmermann (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Department of Anthropology) Research Interest: American Bottom archaeology, Native American prehistory, zooarchaeology, prehistoric foodways, prehistoric environments.