WMU News

NSF grant supports undergraduate research in Latin America

Feb. 3, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Department of Geography has been awarded a $191,000 grant to fund undergraduate research on globalization and urban development in Latin America this summer.

The award from the National Science Foundation will establish a Research Experience for Undergraduates program, an intensive eight-week summer research program, which will start in June. Students selected for the program will work collaboratively on interdisciplinary research in Yucatan, Mexico. In addition to students from WMU, students from Grand Valley State University and Augustana College will take part in the program.

"The increasing integration of Latin America into the global economy has profound implications on the quality of life for people throughout the region," says Dr. James Biles, WMU assistant professor of geography and director of the program.

Last year, the program was initiated with funds from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Lee Honors College, the Haenicke Institute for International and Area Studies, and the Department of Geography.

"This grant expands opportunities for WMU students to participate in research as undergraduates and encourages them to consider graduate education in careers in the social and environmental sciences," says Biles.

The program is based in Merida, Mexico, and is housed at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan. Assisting in the program will be Dr. David Lemberg, WMU associate professor of geography, and a member of the faculty at UADY.

"It has been designed to promote a first-hand understanding of the problems associated with globalization and to challenge students to work collaboratively to identify potential solutions to social and environmental problems," says Biles.

Students selected into the program will collaborate with faculty on such research topics as identification and mitigation of urban heat islands, sustainable eco-tourism and economic development, and the impact of globalization on patterns of consumption and the generation and distribution of post-consumer content.

The REU program targets students with an interest in social, environmental and international studies. The program covers students' transportation and room and board costs. Participants will also receive a $2,500 stipend. In addition to the grant, support for the program will come from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Lee Honors College, the Haenicke Institute for International and Area Studies, and the Department of Geography. For more information about the program, contact (269) 387-3407.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 269 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu


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