The Semester in Environmental Science (SES) program was founded in 1997 and provides undergraduate students the opportunity to work with scientists and gain first hand experience in “research on ecosystems while gaining an understanding of the fundamentals of global change ecology and biogeochemistry” (Ecosystems Center Report 2016, 10). Students have a course load beyond working in the lab and the field. They must take courses in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems analysis. In these courses they must investigate local ecosystems and evaluate anthropogenic (human) effects due to land use change and other impacts. An elective is also required of the students, either in Microbial Methods in Ecology or Mathematical Modeling of Ecosystems.
This program gives undergraduate students a taste of research, for many of them it is their first time. The program provides a structured environment for them to conduct their own projects and build up their CVs and resumes with real experience. The semester starts with ten weeks of coursework, and then the remaining five weeks allow the students to delve into their projects. They are overseen by a faculty mentor. Many of these mentors come from the MBL, but faculty from nearby research institutions can serve as mentors in this program as well.
This program has been wildly successful. In its first twenty-two years it has trained 357 students. Of those students around 70% have pursued advanced degrees in the environmental science fields. Some of the former students (around a dozen) are tenure track faculty working to bring up the next generation of environmental scientists. Others are making a difference in fields related to their research studies, such as public health, advocacy at NGOs, government research, consulting, law and policy, etc. To learn more about the program, check out the Ecosystems Center page for SES, and to see past student pages visit this link.