LAKES REU Undergraduate Summer Interns

The LAKES REU is funded by the National Science Foundation for the next three years and is currently recruiting our first cohort for this round of funding (8th cohort since the program began). The program aims to better understand the root causes of phosphorus pollution and solutions to the problem, while providing students with an interdisciplinary research experience led by mentors in biology, psychology, anthropology, political science, economics, and engineering. In addition to research, students will have the opportunity to work closely with our community and governmental partners, local citizens, and policy makers. Students will present their work at the end of the summer and will get to see their research directly impact the community around them.

This summer’s session will run from June 4th to August 5th, 2023, and we are recruiting 10 students from the fields listed above or closely related fields. Housing, stipends, and funds for food will be provided to accepted students, and we especially encourage first-generation students, racial and ethnic minorities, women, and other groups underrepresented in the sciences, social sciences, and engineering to apply. Students should be available for the entire duration of the program and should not be working or taking classes during that time

The 2023 LAKES REU program will run from June 4th to August 5th, 2023. The applications will open November 15th, 2022 and all applications and supporting materials are due on 2/1/2023 by 11:59 pm. Please read the rest of this page before starting your application.

Students can apply to work on one of 4 projects for the summer with mentors in the following areas: Psychology (mentor Sarah Wood), Water Quality Monitoring  (mentor Nicole Hayes), Biology and Sustainability  (mentor Arthur Kneeland), or Political Science (mentor Kim Zagorski)

Environmental Social Influence (mentor Sarah Wood)

This project will explore the use of social influence to promote environmentally sustainable behavior change. There is considerable evidence that social influence can increase adoption of a wide range of pro-environment behaviors. However, the variety of contributors to water quality issues in the region may mean there are unique barriers to overcome to make these strategies truly effective in the Red Cedar Watershed. We will gain an understanding of these barriers and explore how to potentially overcome them in designing attitude and behavior change interventions.

Political knowledge, public opinion, and policymaking (mentor Kimberly Zagorski)

Mixed methods projects will look at the intersection of information flows, scientific literacy, policymaking, and public attitudes related to drinking water in Dunn County. The goal is to understand how (mis)information regarding science, behavior, and public policy impact the ability of stakeholders to enact policies designed to maintain clean drinking water. Public opinion surveys, interviews and/or focus groups of Dunn County residents will be used to understand knowledge and concern about water issues, scientific literacy, and trust in local and state actors. Content analysis of news sources and local social media groups will identify the information the public and policymakers are exposed to regarding drinking water.  Interviews with journalists and social media groups will clarify what types of problems and solutions make it to these outlets.  Finally, interviews with local interest groups and county, state, and local government officials will highlight their policy goals and how they use information to achieve them.

Water Quality, Nutrient Dynamics, and Cyanobacteria Blooms (mentor Nicole Hayes)

This project will explore nutrient dynamics and harmful cyanobacterial blooms in the surface waters of the Red Cedar Watershed, building on ongoing work by researchers at UW-Stout. Students will have the opportunity to learn sample collection and analysis techniques and to help guide monitoring efforts by identifying areas prone to pollution due to surrounding land use, are sites of in-stream and surrounding habitat restoration or are slated for future habitat improvement projects. These ongoing monitoring efforts seek to collect more, better-targeted data needed by county officials and practitioners to improve water quality in the Red Cedar Watershed.

Agriculture, Climate Resiliency, and Local Foodsheds (mentor Arthur Kneeland)

This project will explore the intersection of agriculture, sustainable development for climate resiliency, and local supply chains. With an interdisciplinary approach (including agricultural sciences, economics, sustainable development, anthropology, rural sociology, etc.) we will examine the foodshed to determine inroads to alternative cropping methods on farms, in stores, and in production facilities. Much recent research has been done on alternative cropping systems and farm products; we will explore which of these are best suited to the foodshed of the region.


Eligible students include those who:

are available for the duration of the 9-week program from early June through early August (June 4th to August 5th, 2023)

are enrolled in an undergraduate program

have not graduated by June 2023

are not attending classes in Summer 2023

We prioritize students who are most interested in working with the subject matter and research interests of our faculty mentors, first-generation students, racial and ethnic minorities, or women.


Before starting the application form, please be prepared with a transcript (unofficial is fine), resume, personal statement, and names/emails of 2-3 professional references. The personal statement should be one or two pages explaining your interest in the LAKES REU and how it fits with your skills and future academic plans.

What skills and knowledge will you bring to the project and our research?

How will participation in the LAKES REU help you to achieve your goals?

How is this REU and the research we will be doing meaningful, relevant, or interesting to you?