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Contact Dr. Katie Costigan ( and/or Dr. Beth Stauffer ( to be put on our mailing list, subject line: "REU mailing list"


The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is seeking highly motivated undergraduate students to participate in a life changing research experience with the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site. Students accepted to this competitive program will have the opportunity to spend 8 weeks in the heart of Cajun Country in Lafayette, Louisiana, working with leading researchers in interdisciplinary fields related to coastal and watershed science. REU investigations will fundamentally expand our understanding of watershed and estuarine resources and processes in an urban- and agriculturally-influenced watershed.

The UL Lafayette REU program is committed to enhancing the diversity of scientific communities and sharing our science with broader audiences. As such, we are seeking students from diverse backgrounds from Universities nation-wide. Students from underrepresented groups, first generation students, and students without undergraduate research opportunities at their home universities or colleges are highly encouraged to apply.


Southern Louisiana encompasses a rich network of watersheds connected to the Mississippi (the largest Delta in the US) and the Atchafalaya Basin (the largest swamp in the US). Despite the natural and cultural value of these systems, multiple natural and anthropogenic stressors have been placed on these water resources. This region is one of rapid and ongoing change due to both climate and land use changes, and is the focal point for a multitude of efforts at local, state, regional, and federal levels directed towards ecosystem protection and restoration.

Existing at the nexus of biology, geology, hydrology, engineering, and society, an interdisciplinary systems approach is necessary to increase understanding of these watersheds. Students involved in research in this REU program will be part of a vibrant research community engaged in innovative, multidisciplinary research to address some of the most pressing watershed and coastal issues of present and future decades. Working with faculty mentors, students will engage in hands-on research and field trips with leading researchers in watershed sciences and will develop valuable skills in conducting research, scientific writing, data collection and analysis, and presentation of research findings to diverse audiences.  Students will benefit from the education, networking opportunities, and mentorship to enhance future academic pursuits in graduate school and careers in science. For eight (8) amazing weeks during summer 2019, REU students will be housed on campus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  The campus is located in the heart of Cajun Country and is a walkable distance from downtown shopping, nightlife, and some of the best restaurants in the country. Apply for REU!


The following University researchers and watershed managers are available to mentor REU students. Please review these names and their expertise for your application to the REU program.



Dr. Katie Costigan


Katie Costigan’s lab researches the geomorphology and hydrology of intermittent rivers (i.e., those rivers that stop flowing at some point in space and time). Potential REU projects include a) determining what controls the spatiotemporal patterns of streamflow in intermittent rivers, b) understanding nature of pulsed sediment transport in intermittent rivers, or c) conducting an inventory of large wood and measuring geomorphic characteristics of intermittent rivers. Costigan’s field sites are located in Kisatchie National Forest, which is a long-leaf pine forest located in central Louisiana. Students in the Costigan lab employ and variety of field instruments including sensors, acoustic Doppler velocimeters, passive integrated transponder instruments, and survey instruments. There REU students will have opportunity to learn field and geospatial techniques used to better understand rivers.


   Dr. Daniel Gang               

Daniel Gang’s research group will mentor REU students in one of several ongoing coastal erosion control technologies evaluation projects. The first project investigates the performance characterization of a novel marsh shoreline protection technology. The objective is to determine the energy characteristics in terms of reflection, transmission, and loss coefficients and to develop guidelines for field installation.  The second project is to optimize the Pile Supported Wave Screen System (PSWSS) design via experimental and computational simulation studies. This investigation includes construction of PSWSS modules, laboratory testing, development of computational models, prediction of the performance of the PSWSS system, and design optimization. Undergraduate students will collaborate closely with faculty, graduate students, attend group meetings, collect experimental and simulation data, complete technical analysis, and dissemination of results.


Mr. Greg ​Guidroz

Since 1984, the Lafayette Parish Bayou Vermilion District has worked to beautify, conserve and manage sites along the Vermilion ensuring the preservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural resources for the citizens of Lafayette Parish. The Bayou Vermilion District’s mission focuses both on the environment and the unique culture of Lafayette.

Dr. Emad ​Habib


Dr. Habib is an endowed Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He serves as the Director of the Center for Water Systems Research, and the Associate Director of the Institute for Coastal and Water Research.His research expertise is in surface hydrology with focus on precipitation estimation and analysis; hydrologic modeling; flood prediction and water resource management; coastal restoration; uncertainty modeling of hydro-ecological models, and development of technology-based educational innovations.

Dr. Mark Hester

My primary research focus is coastal plant ecology and restoration ecology, particularly as it pertains to the use of vegetation in the restoration of degraded wetland and coastal habitats. My lab (Coastal Plant Ecology Lab) conducts research in a variety of plant communities ranging from barrier island dune and swale communities to coastal salt marshes, interior freshwater wetlands and baldcypress swamps. In all of these environments, I am particularly interested in plant community response to environmental change, plant conservation ecology with emphasis on factors controlling the zonation and distribution of vegetation, and adaptations and responses of plants to natural and anthropogenic environmental stressors. My lab has a strong interest in constraints on plant establishment and ecosystem function in response to environmental change. Plant stress ecophysiology is also a component of my research program, including the ecophysiology of vegetation impacted by multiple environmental stressors such as salinity, flooding, drought, nutrient loading rates, CO2 levels, and oiling.


Dr. Aubrey Hillman

Aubrey Hillman’s research group collects sediment cores from lakes in order to reconstruct natural environmental variability, anthropogenic impacts to the environment, and the interactions between the two. REU research projects will focus on studying local lakes in Southwestern Louisiana. Potential topics include: 1) monitoring lake water quality for indications of eutrophication and using sediment cores to document the initiation of these conditions; 2) analyzing lake sediment geochemistry to infer land use change and/or industrial pollution. Students will learn methods for water quality sampling, sediment core sampling, and preparation of samples for isotopic and/or geochemical analysis.


Dr. Paul Klerks      

Paul Klerks’ research group studies the effects of environmental contaminants on organisms, and the reverse – how organisms affect what happens to contaminants in their environment. Ongoing research uses aquatic organisms (fish, shrimp, snails, algae) for studying these effects and uses metals and oil as model environmental contaminants. One possible research project for an REU student is looking at the potential to use apple snails for monitoring heavy metal contamination in the environment and involves both laboratory and field work.  The student will learn to conduct experiments, do field collection of apple snails, maintain them in the laboratory, and measure heavy metal concentrations in organisms and the environment.

Dr. Paul Leberg       

Paul Leberg's laboratory is studying the effect of programs to restore barrier islands on wildlife habitat. Coastal islands are disappearing at an alarming rate, affecting seabirds that depend on them for nesting habitat. The placement of dredged materials on these islands can help replace losses to erosion and coastal subsidence, however it can have unintended consequences for seabird colonies. REU researchers can investigate: (1) historical associations between restoration programs and seabird use, 2) effects of restoration on populations of nest predators such as mammals, ants and crabs, 3) effects of dredge placement and project age on vegetation succession, or 4) the role of island characteristics on bird use and nest success.  This work will contribute to better outcomes for ecological restoration projects and benefit coastal island management throughout the coast of the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. James Nelson

Our lab studies wetland and marine food webs and the ecosystem processes that affect how organisms (primarily fish) attain and use resources. We use a wide variety of techniques from very technical to very muddy to answer our questions. All projects will have both a field and laboratory component and the students will learn a variety of skills related to conducting aquatic ecology (gut content analysis, calorimetry, field collection, etc.). We are currently looking for students to participate in projects on the effects of mangrove expansion on marsh food webs, the effects of omnivory on fish trophic transfer efficiency, and experimental wetland food web studies.


Dr. Kelly Robinson


My research interests as a coastal biological oceanographer are broadly aimed at understanding how marine zooplankton populations respond to climate-related and anthropogenic perturbations, with an emphasis on gelatinous plankton predators (i.e. jellyfish). Specifically, my lab focuses on questions related to how variability in biophysical features operating at a range of spatio-temporal scales affect abundance, distribution, and mediate predator-prey interactions. We use a variety of tools to address these questions, including field collections, laboratory identification with microscopic and imagery analysis, and spatial analysis. An undergraduate research student could expect to explore how a zooplankton group, or set of groups, changes in space along an onshore-offshore gradient and what the potential environmental drivers of these change might be. They would be encouraged to participate in field collections based out of LUMCON and work closely with graduate students.

Mr. Donald Sagrera

The Teche-Vermilion Freshwater District is in the process of collecting water samples from the lower Teche-Vermilion watershed. They collect samples once a month from 18 sites. Water sample parameters include Fecal coliform; total N; TKN; Nitrites-Nitrates; TSS; Total P; Dissolved Oxygen; pH; Temperature; Conductivity; TDS; and Turbidity. We would like to work with a students to determine if there is a correlation between any of these parameters and to compare the water that we are pumping from the Atchafalaya River to runoff water within our watershed. 

Dr. Beth Stauffer


Beth Stauffer's lab conducts research on the dynamics of phytoplankton communities, seeking to 1) understand what controls growth and community composition, and 2) quantify how changes in these communities affect larger ecosystems through food webs and processes like carbon cycling. Potential REU research projects include a) looking at the role of grazing by microzooplankton in structuring phytoplankton communities in local estuaries of Louisiana, b) quantifying how filter-feeding oysters are effected by and affect phytoplankton communities in Louisiana estuaries undergoing restoration activities, and c) assessing the effects of changing phytoplankton communities, couple with grazing, on carbon export throughout the highly dynamic Gulf of Mexico. Students in the Stauffer lab employ combinations of approaches both in the lab and field and utilize such techniques as flow cytometry, microscopy, ocean observing, and experimental manipulations. REU students will have the opportunity to learn these techniques and participate in field expeditions.


Ms. Gretchen Vanicor


The Office of Sustainability ensures that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is socially, economically, and environmentally conscious in all its actions. Our values include sustainability, engagement, and security posterity. A student engaging with us will have opportunities to work on water/runoff management, design, and green infrastructure.

Dr. Jenneke Visser


My undergraduate research opportunity consist of growth measurement on wetland plants exposed to different flooding, salinity, and/or nutrient regimes. The undergraduate student will measure plants weekly and will determine above and belowground biomass at the end of the experiment. Experiments will be located either at the Ira Nelson Horticulture Center (on campus) or in the experimental wetlands at Cade Farm (20 minutes south of campus, so transportation to the site will be provided). Students will be required to read at least 10 scientific papers related to their research and write a full report (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) two weeks after the end of the experiment.


November 15 –   Student Applications Open
February 3 –   Deadline to submit applications
March 15 –   Selected students will be notified of their acceptance to the program
April 15 –   Deadline for students to accept/decline their acceptance to the program
May 31 to July 27 –  Students spend 8 amazing weeks conducting Healthy Streams Healthy Coasts research

Undergraduate Researchers accepted to this program will receive:
$500/week compensation paid biweekly*
$99/week allowance for food*
Free on-campus housing

Partial to total travel reimbursement following completion of travel
Materials and supplies for research

* Stipend and food allowance may be considered taxable income. Participants should talk to a financial/tax advisor to understand any tax liability for which they may be responsible.

Undergraduate Researchers accepted to this program will be housed in Legacy Park Apartments, on campus housing located adjacent to Girard Park (230 Girard Park Circle, Lafayette, LA 70503). Students will share an apartment with up to two other students accepted this program. Each apartment is furnished with beds, full service kitchen (oven, microwave, refrigerator), livingroom amenities (sofa/love seat, chairs, dining table, barstools, end table, TV stand), free cable services, washer/dryer combo, private balcony, BBQ/Picnic area on landscaped grounds, and security card access to apartment entrances. Basic kitchen and cooking supplies are also provided.

Apply for REU!



Please send the following application materials to both Dr. Katie Costigan ( AND Dr. Beth Stauffer ( with 'REU APPLICANT_LASTNAME' written in the subject heading of your email by Feb. 3, 2019.

1) Curriculum Vita or Resume

2) Most recent collegiate transcripts

3) Student Applicaton Form (click icon below to download)


ALSO please arrange for two (2) professional references to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf to both Dr. Katie Costigan ( and Dr. Beth Stauffer (  by Feb. 03, 2019.




This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No 1659853. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.