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Research Experiences for Undergraduates

National Science Foundation LogoREU Site: Restoring cattle ranches for sustainable land and water resources

Rocky creek on the ranchHereford cattle with yellow ear tagsBluebonnets growing in a rocky area
Program Overview

Tarleton State University offers a 10-week summer research experience for undergraduate students interested in a wide variety of environmentally related concerns associated with the long-term sustainability of land and water resources. The research will be conducted both on the main campus and at Timberlake Biological Field Station, located south of Goldthwaite in Mills County, TX. Ranching was once a widespread and profitable business with little environmental focus. However, increasing emphasis on sustainable land and water use has helped reshape how cattle ranchers manage their resources to maximize their gain while minimizing their impact on surrounding ecological systems.

The scientific focus is on environmentally related issues associated with converting a working cattle ranch into a long-term biological field station. Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) students will have opportunities to conduct scientific research in the areas of aquatic ecology, conservation biology, environmental biology, environmental chemistry, environmental engineering, environmental sociology, geospatial analyses, herpetology, hydrogeology, ichthyology, landscape management, limnology, ornithology, paleoecology, parasitology, plant ecology, restoration ecology, sustainability, water quality, and wildlife management. 

Faculty mentors from six different departments (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Engineering, Geosciences, Sociology, and Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences) across three colleges will guide undergraduate students through the scientific process as they address basic and applied issues associated with balancing economic sustainability with environmental sustainability.

Focusing on these students, Tarleton’s REU Program, funded by a $349,822 National Science Foundation grant with Dr. Christopher Higgins as principal investigator, enhances the diversity of students who continue on to have successful careers in STEM-related fields.

Program Dates
  • May 30, 2018 - August 4, 2018 (10 weeks)
  • May 28, 2019 - August 3, 2019 (10 weeks)
  • May 26, 2020 - August 1, 2020 (10 weeks)
Male student holding a fish caught at the station with two students standing in the river with a netAn instructor working with two students to fix netsThree female students under a tree taking a break at the station

Students will receive a $550 stipend per week for their participation in the REU program. On-campus housing (apartment-style dormitory with a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom floor plan) and lodging at Timberlake Biological Field Station will be provided at no cost to the students. Additional funds for meals, research, and travel are also included.


A total of 10 students will be accepted into the program. Students must be US citizens or permanent residents enrolled in a 2-year community college or 4-year university. Our goal is to provide research experiences for students of diverse backgrounds from institutions with limited research opportunities. So, if you identify with an under-represented minority group we encourage you to apply.

How to Apply

Students must submit a complete APPLICATION PACKAGE by March 2, 2018, to be considered for the summer 2018 cohort. The online application includes:

  1. 500-word essay on why you are interested in the Tarleton State University REU program
  2. official transcripts - uploaded as PDF file
  3. two letters of recommendation from academic advisors, research mentors, or science instructors - uploaded as PDF files
Contact Information

For more information, contact either Dr. Higgins (Director, Timberlake Biological Field Station) or Dr. Bellows (Coordinator, Center for Environmental Studies).

Dr. Christopher Higgins

PI name: Christopher L. Higgins

PI email:

PI phone: (254) 968-9019

Dr. Barbara Bellows

Co-PI name: Barbara C. Bellows

Co-PI email:

Co-PI phone: (254) 968-9000