Undergraduate Opportunities - Organization for Tropical Studies

REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates)
Summer Program in Costa Rica

  • REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Costa Rica
  • REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Costa Rica
  • REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Costa Rica
  • REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Costa Rica
  • REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Costa Rica
  • REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Costa Rica
  • REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Costa Rica

Program Details

When: Jun 9-Aug 10, 2016

Duration: 9 weeks

Language: English

Deadline:January 31


REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates)
Summer Program in Costa Rica

This program provides advanced undergraduate biology students from the U.S. with an opportunity to conduct intensive field research for nine weeks in Costa Rica.


Students from diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds will complete an independent research project in the field, from the project planning stage through to symposium presentation and potential publication. Undergraduates will be selected through a competitive application process for a nine-week research program at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. Students will live immersed in a rich academic community of researchers conducting novel tropical research and will attend workshops on field skills, current research in tropical biology, international research ethics, statistics, and scientific written and oral communication. Participants also have access to the social, cultural, and recreational activities surrounding La Selva.


March  Mentors and students matched, begin communicating about projects
March-May Students and mentors plan projects, develop brief written proposal and 12-minute proposal presentation, arrange equipment/supplies and IACUC/La Selva/MINAET permits

Arrival and orientation (1 week)

June 9 Students arrive in San José for dinner, icebreakers, night at Hotel Cacts
June 10 Orientation at CRO at 8 AM, bus to Sarapiquí, lunch at La Selva at noon, introductory walk with guides at 2 PM, evening lecture at 7:15 PM
June 11-13 Orientation days (tours, lectures, and workshops TBA)
June 13 Student-mentor mixer at 5 PM, mentors’ meeting after dinner
June 14 REU proposal symposium at 8 AM, student proposals due at 5 PM

Data collection and fieldwork (6 weeks)

June 15 Fieldwork begins; Tuesday evening tropical biology seminars and student meetings, Friday evening mentor meetings, and ethics discussions and other workshops
July 1 Introduction and methods draft due (incorporating mentor and coordinator feedback)
June/July Plantation tour and weekend trip (dates TBA)

Data analysis and final papers/presentations (2 weeks)

July 27 Students finish data collection and focus on data analysis and writing
August 1 Full paper draft (including abstract) due to mentor/coordinator by 5 PM
August 2 Tirimbina chocolate tour
August 3 Mentor/coordinator comments returned to student
August 6 Small-group practice presentation session 7:15 PM
August 7 Final student symposium, final papers due at 5 PM
August 9 Pack equipment boxes and rooms, return to San José at 3 PM
August 10 Official end of program: students depart from Hotel Cacts to the US or personal travel

*Exact dates, except arrival and departure, subject to change.


Carissa N. Ganong, ,

REU 2016 Coordinator

Carissa will be on site at La Selva and is responsible for direct coordination and oversight of all program activities. Contact her for most questions about the program.

Financial Aid

The OTS REU award covers the cost of room and board as well as international travel to and from Costa Rica. Participants will also receive a stipend of $4,000 for their 9 weeks of work on their research.

Application Process

The REU application deadline is: January 31st, 2016.

There are three items required to complete an REU application:

  1. REU Student Application Form
  2. Two Letters of Recommendation
  3. Official Transcript(s)

1. REU Student Application Form (Word document 135 kb) (includes Statement of Purpose)

Click on the application link above and open the MS Word application file. Upon opening the document, please click in the blank areas of each field and insert the appropriate application information. For REU project preferences, please select mentors/projects from the appropriate list (either NSF-OTS or LSAMP) available under "Downloads" on the right sidebar of this website. After you complete the first two pages of the general application, you will need to write the ‘Statement of Purpose’, which is on the third page.

Please save your application using the following format:


For example, if your name is Jane Elizabeth Smith, you should label your application:


After the application has been completed and saved, please send it as an attachment to:

2. Two Letters of Recommendation

Science Faculty Member ( Word document 97 kb)  – Two letters of recommendation are required from two science faculty members who knows you well, are from your major department, and with whom you have taken at least one class within the past two years. You must download this form and send it to each professor who is writing your recommendation. Instructions of how he/she is to submit the form are included within the document.

3. Official Transcript(s)

Official transcripts from all universities attended must be sent to OTS for review. Please send them via US Regular Postal Mail to:

OTS REU – Undergraduate Program

Organization for Tropical Studies


7801 NW 37th Street

Doral, FL 33195-6503

These forms will be automatically forwarded to the OTS Costa Rican Office (CRO) in San Jose, Costa Rica and should arrive within 5-7 days.

*** Should you have any questions about the program or how to apply, please contact Kattia Mendez, Undergraduate Program Assistant at the OTS Costa Rican Office, at: .

Accommodations & Meals

June through August is the busiest period of the year at La Selva, and the station is likely to be near capacity during much of the time you are there. La Selva has many researchers and graduate and undergraduate students coming from all over the world who stay for all or part of the summer to work or study. This means you will have the opportunity to get to know the many researchers and learn about their work; it also means that living conditions will be somewhat crowded. It is very likely that you will be sharing a room with one or more other students in the REU program. You will be part of a diverse group of students and researchers, representing many different opinions and lifestyles. For this reason, it is important to be tolerant, respectful, honest, cooperative, and, above all, have a good sense of humor!

Passport & Visa Information

You must have a valid Passport to travel to Costa Rica. It is important that the passport does not expire within 6 months of entering Costa Rica. If you are NOT a citizen of a North American or European country, you will probably need a special visa to get into Costa Rica. We recommend that you contact your respective consulate or embassy services to determine if you need a visa to travel to Costa Rica. It is important to take into account the requirements to get a visa approved before you apply for one of our courses. If you are accepted into one of our courses we will provide any information necessary (within reason) to help with the visa application. Please keep in mind that visa application processes can take several months depending on the country of issue. For more information on this topic please visit


U.S. citizens entering Costa Rica are automatically granted a 90-day tourist Visa. Students will receive a second 90-day tourist visa when the course enters Costa Rica again following a visit to Panama, and that second visa will last until the end of the program. Remember that according to current immigration laws in Costa Rica, you MUST leave the country for at least 72 hours when your visa expires. Students planning to stay in Costa Rica after the program end date need to take this into account.

Please consult OTS if you have any questions about this


The NSF-OTS REU program is open to undergraduates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled at accredited U.S. institutions. Graduating seniors (May or August 2016) and students from R-1 research universities are not eligible.

The LSAMP REU program is open to undergraduates who are (1) U.S. citizens or permanent residents (2) members of underrepresented minority groups (African-American, Hispanic, and/or Native American) and (3) enrolled in an LSAMP program.  Graduating seniors (May or August 2016) are not eligible. To determine if your institution is an LSAMP member, check this website:  


Health and Safety

OTS is deeply committed to student safety and well-being and does not expose students to unnecessary danger or risk. OTS monitors national and international events that might affect our students. Nearly 5 decades of risk assessment, emergency response, and crisis resolution have enabled OTS to maximize student safety and security. All students participate in an on-site orientation program upon arrival in Costa Rica.