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What You'll Study
  • Work under the guidance of a conservation professional to develop an understanding of the methodologies employed in their work.
  • Develop an original scholarly product in the context of the mentor’s research and conservation work.
  • Practice networking and professional development skills related to conducting research.

Research placements are available at various locations throughout the northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. area.

*Fulfills Mason Core Capstone Requirement

Program Details

June 22 – July 24, 2020 | Mason’s Academic Calendar

Available Formats

Undergraduate (CONS 496, 6 credits)


Tuition and SMSC Course Fees

Room and Board not required.  Students will be responsible for transportation to placement site.

Who is eligible?

3rd- and 4th-year undergraduates, graduate students, post-bacs, and non-degree-seeking students from any accredited college or university.

Meet the Faculty

Anneke DeLuycker
Anneke DeLuycker
Assistant Professor of Conservation Studies
Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
Anneke is a biological anthropologist specializing in the ecology, behavior, and conservation of primates, particularly in the Neotropics. Her research concerns how ecological and evolutionary processes influence behavioral patterns.


In this five-week research experience, students will work one-on-one with a conservation practitioner on a project associated with that mentor’s program. Students will learn sought-after skills they can apply to their professional careers. Students will develop an original scholarly product, from concept through data collection and analysis, and present their findings in an oral presentation session modeled after a professional conference.

Research placements are available at various locations throughout the northern Virginia and DC area. Students are responsible for arranging transportation and housing.


  • Students must have completed a minimum of 60 credit hours.
  • Students must have completed at least one upper-level biology-related course.

Application Deadline: May 14, 2020

Interested students should review the List of Research Course Placements Summer 2019 which contains project titles, descriptions of projects, and contact details for research mentors. The student may wish to contact these mentors to obtain additional information about placements. (Note: Do not arrange an interview with the mentor until directed by faculty course coordinator).

As part of the application process, students must identify up to four (4) projects of interest. Projects should be listed by the last name of the potential research mentor and the placement number. Faculty will screen applications, and students will be provided a list of potential mentors to contact for interviews. An in-person or video conferencing interview should be scheduled between May 18-28, 2020. Feedback from mentors is taken into account during the placement process. Preferences and availability of placements are not guaranteed.

Faculty will contact students and mentors by May 29, 2020 to assign final research placements.

Students are required to contact their mentors to schedule at least 3 meetings between June 1 and June 19 to outline the goals and objectives of the project, discuss timeframe of work, provide input for the research proposal, and perform any necessary preliminary training or literature review.

NOTE: Due to the competitive nature of this opportunity and because placements require an interview, it is highly recommended that interested students complete the application before the May 14 deadline. For students registering after May 14, any remaining placement assignments will be made by the faculty instructor.

Other Course Considerations:

  • Students are expected to devote a minimum of 32 hours per week to research projects, June 22-July 24.
  • Students will present their research at a post-course conference-style presentation session, July 27-28 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), in Front Royal, VA. Mentors are invited to these presentations.
  • Students are required to present research proposals and progress on their projects in two “brown-bag” seminars at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, VA on July 2 and July 16. Students will attend required SCBI conservation-related seminars on these dates.
  • Research mentors will provide 2 evaluations of student progress which will be used toward the final course grade.
  • For research placements held at SCBI in Front Royal, VA, housing may be available on site, but is not guaranteed. To inquire about housing on site, email
  • Students assigned to the Smithsonian National Zoo will be required to obtain an SI badge and will be required to pass a federal background check.

2020 Summer Research Course Application

  • If not currently a Mason student, provide alternate email
  • Accepted file types: pdf.
    Limit to one page. PDF files only.
  • Please submit a paragraph explaining why the Research in Conservation course is of interest and how it will benefit your professional or personal goals.
  • Include mentor's last name and placement number


Take the next step toward a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
Program Details