About the Lab
Information about the Urban Wildlife Research Lab
Urban Wildlife Research Lab
Research Direction & 5 Year Management Plan
The purpose of this Research Direction and Five Year Management Plan is to provide direction for the Urban Wildlife Research Lab’s (UWRL), students, partners, and other persons affiliated with the lab and its research. Included in this document is the research interest of the UWRL, the mission statements of the College of Arts and Science and the UWRL, vision for the UWRL, goals and objectives, student expectations, and teaching philosophy for the primary investigator (PI).
This is not a binding document between students and myself. However, it does serve to provide an outline of expected scholarly activities, lab rules, and rules of conduct. I reserve the right to amend this document and will do so as situations warrant. The information in this document does not, at any time, supercede, replace, or negate any of the policies set forth by the University of Louisville, Graduate School, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology, or that of any other department within the university.
This document is open for discussion by current and perspective students and I encourage each individual to review this management plan. I welcome questions regarding the direction of this lab and will make genuine attempts to clarify any statements or information that may require further explanation.
A species must meet its requirements for food, water, shelter, and reproduction to persist in any habitat. The factors that influence population characteristics and behavior of wildlife are correlated with the ability of individuals within the population to locate and secure resources. The research interests of the UWRL will broadly revolve around themes essential for understanding the ecology, population dynamics, and behavioral adaptations of urbanized vertebrate species.
Over the next five years (2009-2014) research conducted in the UWRL will focus on questions examining correlations of urban habitat and landscapes with the synurbization of wildlife, how urbanized species respond to varying levels of urban bioinfrastructure, and how these responses affect species fitness. Questions to be addressed by the UWRL are:
- What are the patterns of distribution, abundance, and behavior of wildlife in urban settings?
- Do correlations exist between attributes of urban areas and the patterns of distribution, abundance, and behavior of wildlife in urban settings?
- How does urban areas influence resource use by wildlife?
The UWRL welcomes opportunities to work with any vertebrate species of wildlife and in some instances, populations from urban, suburban, and rural areas will be used for direct comparisons. Additionally, questions regarding human dimensions and environmental justice are within the scope of the UWRL. Special attention will be given to investigations that center on the development of outreach programs with the goals of attracting diverse cultures and backgrounds into the disciplines of ecology and conservation biology. We have and will continue to work with a broad range of collaborators including, but not limited to, researchers from other disciplines within the University of Louisville and other institutions, state, federal, and private industry. We welcome opportunities to work with practitioners and land managers interested in conservation biology. Citizens, organizations, and special interest groups are also encouraged to contribute to the research activities of the UWRL.
College of Arts and Sciences
The mission of the College of Arts and Sciences is to improve life in the Commonwealth and particularly in the greater Louisville urban area, creating knowledge through its research, sharing knowledge through its teaching, and guiding all its students to realize their potential.
We believe that an excellent education in the liberal arts and sciences is the best preparation for life and work in a world of increasing diversity and ever-accelerating change because it prepares our graduates to be informed and critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and confident communicators. Our students learn by doing: They conduct research and express their creativity, include ethical considerations in their thinking, and experience the world from the perspectives of other cultures. The College brings the heritage of the intellectual tradition to bear on the challenges of the future.
Urban Wildlife Research Lab
The UWRL will serve to answer theoretical and applied questions regarding wildlife and their interactions with humans in urban ecosystems. Approaches to answer these questions will include field observations and experimentation, laboratory observations and experimentation, and theoretical modeling of quantitative and qualitative data.
The UWRL will serve to train graduate and undergraduate students on the theory, methodology, and techniques used in the study of urban systems, while simultaneously preparing students for their chosen professional career.
The UWRL will actively seek, participate, and create outreach and educational activities in underrepresented communities within the greater Louisville community and other communities abroad.
The UWRL will continue to be actively involved in the Baltimore Ecosystems Study, an urban long-term ecological research program supported by the National Science Foundation.
The vision provided below is for years 1-5 of the UWRL. The purpose of this vision is to serve as guidance in the development of the lab, its research, and researchers. Graduate and undergraduate students are expected actively to contribute to the execution of the vision for the UWRL.
The Urban Wildlife Research Lab is a new addition to the University of Louisville’s Department of Biology. This lab will conduct quality research of local, national, and global importance. We will achieve both the lab’s and the University’s missions by:
- Partnering with local stakeholders and interest groups to meet research needs regarding interactions between urban wildlife and humans.
- Establishing relationships with researchers, locally and abroad, that are interested in questions that focus on urban systems and wildlife.
- Securing funding from local, national, and international sources.
- Offering courses relevant to the disciplines of ecology and conservation biology that meet the needs of the students, department, and University.
- Promoting diversity within the field of ecology and other biological sciences by working with local underrepresented communities throughout metropolitan Louisville and communities abroad.
- Seeking opportunities to promote the research conducted int he UWRL, the Department of Biology, and the University of Louisville.
Goals & Objectives
Develop research projects with local and statewide agencies.
Contact Kentucky DNR seeking opportunities for research on wildlife in urban areas within the first two years of appointment.
Contact Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife requesting opportunities for research on wildlife in urban areas within the first two years of appointment date.
Meet with Louisville Park Commission regarding concerns about urban wildlife in public parks within the first two years after appointment date.
Develop research ideas and plans for Louisville Zoo, within the first two years of appointment.
Broaden research involvement with the Baltimore Ecosystems Study (BES).
Continue wildlife research in metropolitan Baltimore, by summer 2010.
Expand gray squirrel research to examine physiological responses to habitat and landscape attributes, by summer 2010.
Expand wildlife study to examine genetic heterogeneity in urban areas.
Work with interdisciplinary researchers to address questions regarding urban systems.
Foster research relationships with international universities and researchers with interest in urban ecosystems and/or human dimensions of wildlife.
Develop research project(s) with animal behavior lab at Exeter University, Exeter, England, UK.
Look for research opportunities with Universidad De Autonoma Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico.
Secure funding from university, municipal and state agencies, National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and/or other funding sources that may be applicable to the research conducted in the UWRL.
Apply for grants that are available through the university for new faculty.
Apply for NSF grants available for faculty development and/or minority faculty.
Actively seek opportunities to promote conservation biology and higher education with underrepresented communities
Partner with underrepresented communities to develop programs to attract minorities to the field of ecology and conservation biology.
Interact with grade schools that have large minority enrollments.
UWRL Organizational Structure Organizational Structure
- Research, in any setting, requires analytical skills, dedication, and clear and concise critical thinking. Doctoral students that have previously acquired a M.S. degree may be in a position to provide valuable insights for less experienced graduate and undergraduate students. I will strongly encourage students in my lab to seek out this leadership and use it to their benefits.
- In any work environment, you will have personnel with more experience and varying levels of proficiency. There will be natural divisions on who will be the most equipped person to lead in various projects. However, each individual is responsible for the progression of the work associated with his or her research project(s) and will be considered as the lead person responsible for that project.
- When applicable, projects will be aided by other students in the lab. It is my desire to create an infrastructure in which all individuals associated with the UWRL have projects that may share techniques, and/or data when appropriate. In cases where this is achievable, I will inform all involved and designate students to integrate projects.
Lab Meetings & Schedules Lab Meetings
- Mandatory lab meetings will be conducted throughout each semester. Meeting dates and times will be established based on the schedules of the PI and students. Every attempt will be made to accommodate the schedules of all parties involved. If for any reason a student cannot attend any of these meetings, the student should notify the primary investigator prior to the day of the meeting.
- Students will be expected to provide and adhere to a weekly work schedule. This will be for informative purposes and is flexible. Depending on the nature of individual project(s) being carried out, expectations will vary. However, expectations will be clearly outlined and discussed with each student prior to the initiation of each project.
- In most cases, students will be expected to work on their projects as necessary. Weekly meetings or updates may be a necessity to provide opportunities for advice and direction on various projects. However, this may not be the case for all projects. Therefore, expectations regarding meetings and project updates will be established early in each semester.
- Monthly meetings will be required with every student working in or with the UWRL. The dates, times, and locations of meetings will be discussed with students, however, the decision lies with the primary investigator of the UWRL.
- Students are to be enrolled at the university each semester while working on projects associated with the UWRL or while working in the UWRL. All students will be expected to attend the semester closeout meeting. This meeting will, in all attempts, be scheduled prior to the week of finals for that semester.
All students are expected to contribute to the research efforts of the UWRL. By the close of the first week of each semester, all students associated with the UWRL are expected to submit a list of goals for the semester, courses, and schedule of availability. The goals provided by the student will be paired with goals set by the PI for the UWRL. Additionally, contact information and two emergency contacts must be provided and/or checked for accuracy.
Students will be evaluated for progress in coursework, research, and other scholarly activities each semester. These evaluations will be independent of departmental evaluation and will be used in the determination of activities for the following semester. At the close of the semester, each student will meet with the PI to discuss progress on research project(s), status of semester goals, and future expectations. Students will receive a rating of Excellent, Satisfactory, Average, Poor, or Unsatisfactory. Any rating below Satisfactory will result in a program of work (POW) being established by the PI and student. The POW is to correct any problem areas experienced by the student. The PI has the final decision on and can amend the POW throughout the semester as deemed necessary. Two consecutive semester of a rating below Satisfactory will result in the student being dismissed from the lab.
All equipment purchased by the UWRL is the property of UofL and will be cataloged in the UWRL inventory. Equipment must be checked out for use prior to the date of usage. Keys will be provided, as needed, to students. Keys and equipment will be checked out/in by the PI or someone delegated by the PI to do so.
- Undergraduate students working in the UWRL will be advised of course work through their departmental advisors. When possible, students will be encouraged to take courses that supplement their research skills.
- Undergraduate students involved with or conducting research in the UWRL are expected to adhere to lab rules and schedules as established by the primary investigator. Students will be assigned duties according to skill and experience level.
- Undergraduate students producing materials as a result of participating in research will have the opportunity to present their findings at either an internal or external meeting. This may be in the form of manuscripts, posters, presentations, maps, or other products. Students will be listed as an author of these products. The amount of contribution from the student will determine first or second authorship.
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Masters of Science (MS) course work will be determined by the procedures established by the Graduate School and Department of Biology. The major advisor and Student Advisory Committee (SAC), along with input from the graduate student, will determine coursework. Decisions on coursework will be based on standards set by the Department of Biology and College of Arts and Sciences, past coursework, and skills needed for research.
- Graduate students will be expected to actively conduct research. As with many ecological studies, sampling must occur over several seasons. Because of this, graduate students, when necessary, are expected to carry out research activities during coursework.
- Graduate students are expected to present research findings at scientific meetings and other venues. In cases where results are available, graduate students are expected to submit manuscripts to the appropriate scholarly journals prior to completing requirements for graduation. Dissertations and theses are also expected to yield publications, therefore, each chapter will be written as an independent manuscript in the style of a journal fitting for the research topic.
My science teaching philosophy is comprised of three relationships: the professor-student, professor- subject content, and professor-institution. All of these contribute to being an effective science professor. Teaching science, on any level, is more than just the passing of information, it is an opportunity to give back to our scholarly community and serve as a link between academic disciplines that may not frequently collaborate. Therefore, it is my philosophy that every science professor should maximize time to not only expand the minds of students but also enhance their life experiences through hands on engaging exercises.
I believe that all students can learn science. I believe that science education must adopt the new learner-centered educational philosophy and its associated pedagogies (Ryan and Campa, 2000). I also believe that faculty should encourage greater student responsibility for their own, more effective learning of content and critical thinking ability (Ryan and Campa, 2000). In doing this, it enhances the learning experience and facilitates greater success. I believe that all students must experience this success to encourage the learning of science.
Majors and Nonmajors Courses
Interdisciplinary study enhances the academic experiences of all involved (researchers, professors, and students). Therefore, I feel that courses for nonmajors and majors should be instructed with similar methods. These methods should use inquiries to foster learning and develop critical thinking and active learning techniques to pique students’ involvement. The student’s motivation for enrollment in the course may differ between majors and nonmajors, yet subject content may be adequately adjusted to coincide with the type of enrollment. Courses for majors should also incorporate the development of professional skills to enhance the level of individuals entering the job market.
I feel that as a science professor, you have a responsibility to your students, the university, and the scientific community to provide accurate and current information delivered in an objective manner. I also believe that my teaching goals should parallel the mission of both the department and university. My teaching goals will be contingent on the course, content, and enrollment; however, I feel that helping students develop critical thinking skills should be the ultimate goal. Finally, I feel that as a college professor you also serve as a mentor to your students. This can have the greatest impact on your students and should be taken just as seriously as the instructional component.
I feel that the course content being provided should be given in a logical and systematic format. I feel that as a college science professor I should remain sensitive to professional applications of the subject content and the realization that this information is in a state of continuous flux; because of this, I should always be cognizant that new applications arise rapidly. Some of the techniques I will use to teach include active learning, to engage students in seeking and creating new knowledge and linking to previous information; mini-lectures, to answer a question(s) or help solve problems; peer teaching, to have students assist each other; case studies, to promote relevancy and integrate concepts from lectures or readings; and problem based learning laboratories to supplement lecture topics.
I feel that student assessment is one of the most important activities a science professor can carry out and it is the responsibility of both the instructor and the student. I feel that student assessments should be carried out through the use of a variety of techniques that can be utilized frequently throughout each course. I feel that having several exams distributed throughout each course allows students to concentrate on smaller bits of information while providing students more opportunities to demonstrate what they have learned. I feel that to assess students, science professors have to design test that adequately allow students to show that the information being taught has been learned. Therefore, assessments should include higher-level questions that require not only the synthesis of information but also the use of critical thinking skills. I feel that when teaching science, the instructor should make every attempt to make students feel comfortable conveying any difficulties being experienced in the course.
© Copyright by
Tommy S. Parker, Ph.D., 2009
All Rights Reserved