CHECK IT OUT: Now Accepting Fall 2021 URCA Research Assistant Applicants!

If you are an undergraduate at SIUE who is interested in sustainability, physical geography, biogeography, meteorology, climatology, ecology, and/or environmental science and are looking for opportunities to get involved with research and boost your CV or resume – then this information is for you! Application for SIUE’s FA21 Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Positions are now open until July 15, 2021 – apply sooner than later to secure your spot!

Gain hands-on environmental field research experience by applying to be a SIUE URCA Research Assistant.

Overview of SIUE’s URCA program, if it is new to you:
• URCA Research Assistants work approximately nine hours per week on faculty-led research that tackles real-world problems for a minimum of one semester (15 weeks) – it looks fantastic on CVs/resumes! This out-of-the-classroom, hands-on experience provides you with an opportunity to see what it is like to conduct environmental field work and gain skills that are transferable to many environmentally-based careers! It is also a great primer if you are interested in graduate school.
Class credit in the Geography and Geographic Information Sciences Department IS available, if you are interested (updated change from original URCA application that states that class credit is not available) – please let me know ASAP if this is an option you would like, so we can ensure you get enrolled properly. (Note: there is no tuition waiver for the credits associated with the URCA program, so you must pay for the credits as you would any other class)
• Students may apply at any time during their undergraduate SIUE careers (freshman through senior years) for Assistant positions. Individuals who are full-time students at SIUE and have a minimum GPA of 2.3 are eligible to apply for URCA Assistant positions.
• Students MUST apply online for the Assistant position they would like through the URCA website ( to be selected as an official URCA Assistant. To apply for my project, scroll down to find ‘Geography’ then click ‘Apply Now!’ in the row for ‘Shannon McCarragher.’

Overview of my URCA Assistant position(s): You will be working on a study that assess the general usage patterns and role of urban greenspaces in questions about urban sustainability, resilience, and heat island effect. You will assist with collecting microclimate weather data and general usage patterns along greenways on and near the SIUE campus throughout fall 2021 semester – and perhaps even into spring 2022 – if the project gets renewed and you are interested in continuing. If you enjoy the work and wish to explore other research opportunities, please know this project is one piece of a larger Urban Biogeography project exploring the socio-ecological role of urban greenspaces, so there are lots of multidisciplinary opportunities for student involvement.

Join the McCarragher Biogeography Research Group and help collect weather and usage data along local greenways near and around SIUE.

Specific URCA student(s)’ responsibilities: 9 hrs/wk for 15 weeks (Note: this is a general plan and may alter slightly based on the number of students involved in the project, as well as the progress and needs of the project):
• Wk 1: Familiarize self to project (read relevant literature) and assemble/install nine microclimate environmental sensors along greenways segments on and near SIUE’s campus in Edwardsville, IL. Familiarize self with equipment and data collection protocols.
• Wk 2-15: A) Monitor status of microclimate environmental sensors and perform weekly data downloads via Bluetooth; B) Collect greenway path usage observations and weather data within different habitats along the greenway using portable weather stations for one hour at a time, multiple times a week at different times of day (morning, afternoon, and evening) (time slots will be scheduled/coordinated based on student availability and number of students involved); and C) read and synthesize literature related to the project and perform meta-analysis, if time allows.

The research activities in this project will be low risk with regards to COVID-19, as we will continue to follow the most current guidelines from Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, the CDC, and the University’s COVID-19 Safety Plan. Students will need their own transportation and we will have weekly check-in meetings.

Please reach out if you have any questions!

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