Credit: M. Downs/LTER-NCO. CC BY-SA 4.0.

With multi-disciplinary teams of investigators, long-running experiments, and extensive historical data, Long-Term Ecological Research Sites present extraordinary opportunities for graduate and advanced undergraduate students to tackle meaningful questions in environmental science. No matter their own field of study, LTER students have frequent opportunities to interact with faculty and other researchers from many disciplines who share an interest in their site, but may bring a completely different perspective. This intense interaction provides a chance to explore related disciplines, learn new techniques, and build a professional network.

Students who are interested in pursuing graduate study at an LTER should seek out an investigator who shares their scientific interests and apply to study at that investigator’s university.

Once admitted and engaged in research, graduate students at a particular site have opportunities to participate in the site’s annual meeting, where investigators and students present talks and posters on all aspects of the research underway. The lead institution at many sites also offers a graduate seminar with readings and discussions on the large body of research produced about that site.

At the level of the LTER Network, graduate students have a variety of opportunities to connect across sites.

  • An email listserv is useful for organizing gatherings at major scientific meetings.
  • A private Facebook group facilitates informal chat about ideas, opportunities, methods, student life, mentoring and other topics.
  • The LTER grad student blog, Short Stories About Long-Term Research, provides an outlet for creative writing about science.
  • The LTER All Scientists’ Meeting, which happens every three years, brings together investigators at all levels to share ideas and strategies for moving LTER science forward.
  • It is not unusual for graduate students to participate in synthesis working groups, which combine data from many sites to reveal new insights.