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Year-Long Conservation Research Program

Matching William & Mary's interdisciplinary expertise with applied conservation needs


The IIC's year-long Conservation Research Program brings together talented William & Mary undergraduate students, an interdisciplinary team of faculty, and experts from conservation organizations to conduct applied research needed to advance real-world conservation outcomes. The objectives of the program are to (1) support conservation partners with applied research needed to advance real-world conservation outcomes and (2) help build the capacity of the next generation of conservation leaders (i.e., the undergraduates completing the work). Through the portfolio of collaborative student-led projects, we aim to cultivate long-term partnerships with conservation organizations and communities to advance integrative (i.e., bridging of disciplines, knowledge systems, and sectors) solutions to pressing conservation challenges.

Apply for the 2023 Conservation Research Program

Program Schedule

William & Mary students work alongside a conservation mentor from the partner organization and a  faculty mentor to develop a research proposal in the spring, complete the bulk of the research during the summer, and finalize reports and deliverables in the fall. Students participate in lab group meetings throughout the program, where they learn how to write a research proposal, communicate research results to diverse stakeholders, and write a manuscript or technical report. Below is the schedule for W&M students in this year-long program.

  • Spring: Complete project proposals. Students work with their faculty mentor and conservation partner to complete a written project proposal that serves as a guide for the completion of the research over the summer. This includes a literature review, acquiring all necessary permissions to complete the research, a compilation of relevant data, and the development of a summer schedule. 
  • Summer: Complete the project. Students receive a $4,000 stipend and travel support from the IIC to complete the research projects full-time over the summer (30hrs/week x 10 weeks).
  • Fall: Finalize a report and other project deliverables and communicate results to stakeholders. Students complete a written report summarizing the implications of the research in advancing real-world conservation solutions, finalize all project deliverables as identified by conservation partners, and communicate the research findings to partners, to the W&M community, and project stakeholders.
Student Eligibility

The IIC is building a diverse cohort of students who are committed to applying their unique perspectives, lived experiences, skills, interests, and knowledge to advance integrative solutions to conservation challenges. As such, we are specifically recruiting students with diverse majors/minors and professional goals for this program. This program is open to all W&M undergraduate students who: 

  • Plan to graduate on or after the end of the year-long program.
  • Are currently and plan to be enrolled as a full-time W&M undergraduate students in the spring and fall semesters.  
  • Understand and commit to all of the program requirements and student expectations. 
Student Application Process

William & Mary students interested in the year-long Conservation Research Program should review the program expectations and should follow the application instructions below. We aim to recruit a diverse cohort of W&M undergraduate students with unique perspectives, skills, interests, and backgrounds who can work with partners, with faculty, and as part of a student cohort to advance integrative conservation solutions. Interested students are asked to reflect on their own unique contributions to conservation and complete an application describing how they will apply their unique skills to one of the 2023 research projects. 

Apply for the 2023 Conservation Research Program
Faculty Mentors

The IIC is cultivating an inclusive community of faculty from across William & Mary who can mentor undergraduate students on applied research needed to support conservation partners with advancing conservation outcomes. Faculty mentors meet with conservation partners in the spring to narrow down the scope of the project and to ensure that the student-led research project aligns with their goals. Faculty mentors then meet weekly with the student researcher throughout the program to mentor them through the process of conducting robust, applied research needed to meet the needs of the partner organization and to advance integrative conservation approaches. Faculty can get involved in the Conservation Research Program in several ways:

1.) Faculty can propose applied conservation research projects that will be completed by students in collaboration with external conservation partners with whom they already have a working relationship.

2.) Faculty can propose applied conservation research projects and can work with the IIC to identify a collaborating conservation partner who will apply the research to advance their conservation outcomes.

3.) Faculty can sign up to be a faculty mentor on a project proposed by external conservation partners (Projects will be advertised in fall 2022 for the 2023 program)

Conservation Partners

The IIC aims to cultivate collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships with conservation partners (e.g., non-governmental organizations, government agencies, tribal governments, private corporations, Indigenous peoples, and local communities) to advance solutions to pressing conservation challenges. Through collaboration on student-led research as part of the Conservation Research Program, we aim to meet the applied research needs of conservation partners and foster long-term partnerships. 

Partner Commitment: We aim to bridge the knowledge-action gap in conservation by partnering with organizations with aligned values to complete applied research that advances the organization’s conservation objectives with a minimal time commitment. To achieve this, students are supported by faculty mentors who guide them through the research process and work with conservation partners to ensure projects align with real-world conservation needs. To ensure projects align with applied conservation objectives, we ask partners to commit to the following:

  • Meet weekly (largely online) with students throughout the program to ensure the project is applied and relevant to advancing conservation outcomes.
  • If student travel is required, we ask partners to work with the IIC to help plan and host students to ensure that their travel is productive, aligns with William & Mary policies, and is safe.
  • Support students with building leadership and professional skills needed to be effective in relevant aspects of conservation.

Partner Benefits: Partners will receive support from a W&M student and a faculty mentor who will complete an applied research project designed to meet the needs of your organization with a minimal time commitment. This includes the completion of deliverables identified by the partner, which may include a manuscript, technical report, organized database, interactive map, business models, marketing materials, etc. The partner organization and faculty mentor will not receive any monetary compensation for participation in this program.