Summer course offers field research experience among the Joshua trees

CSUN students have a unique opportunity to get a taste of desert fieldwork — and earn credit applicable to Biology electives — with experts in Joshua tree ecology this May.

The Department of Biology at Willamette University, in association with CSU Northridge, is pleased to announce a unique field course opportunity for undergraduates in the biological sciences and allied fields: Field Research in Evolutionary Ecology. Professors Christopher (Chris) Smith (WU) and Jeremy Yoder (CSUN) will lead a two week class from Monday, May 22 to Friday, June 2, focused on the population ecology of the Joshua tree, an archetypical species of the Mojave Desert that is threatened with extinction due to climate change. Working from the Zzyzx Desert Studies Center in Baker, California, students will participate in primary research on the population ecology of Joshua trees, will learn surveying and data analysis techniques, and will complete focused research projects culminating in a research symposium. The formal course description can be found at the end of this message.

During the course of the program students will reside at the Desert Studies Center, and will spend daylight hours hiking in the adjacent Mojave National Preserve and other protected areas in the Mojave Desert. Participants should be prepared to walk up to a mile at a time, and up to five miles in a day, in desert heat (95 degrees F) while carrying a day pack. Meals and barracks-style lodging are provided as part of tuition. The course will provide transportation from Burbank Hollywood Airport, to the Desert Studies Center, and from the Desert Studies Center to field sites. Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to Hollywood Burbank Airport.

Students will earn 4 credit hours at the 300 level from Willamette University, applicable to the major requirements in Biology at Willamette. Students at other institutions are strongly encouraged to discuss rules for transfer credits and applicability to program requirements at their home schools. Tuition, which covers transportation from CSUN or Burbank and room and board at the field station, will be $3000. Financial aid may be available if enough students enroll, and students are encouraged to contact their financial aid office to discuss financial support.

Interested students should complete the following form to be updated when registration opens:

Image: Joshua trees in the north-central Mojave Desert.