Small Mammal Undergraduate Research in the Forest (SMURF)

Nature of Research/Program Description: 

The Small Mammal Undergraduate Research in the Forest (SMURF) program is a collaboration between graduate students, the Natural History Museum, and the UC Natural Reserve System that monitors long term small mammal population dynamics in the UCSC Forest Ecology Research Plot. SMURF undergraduate interns trap small mammals every quarter (including summer) and then use the data to examine environmental and ecological questions. 

Description of intern positions: 

We offer 2-unit and 5-unit internships. All first-time volunteers must take the 2-unit course for their first quarter. The 2-unit course is an introduction to small mammal surveying and handling, data entry and management, and project organization. After completing the 2-unit course interns advance to the 5-unit course the following quarter. The 5-unit course focuses on designing and conducting a research project, data analysis, scientific writing, and public speaking, in addition to further development of field skills. 

We will prioritize students interested in designing and conducting their own projects (e.g. independent research projects or senior theses). Thesis or independent study students will be expected to present a poster of their project at the UCSC Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium. Previous interns who have conducted independent research with the project have worked with endangered species, parasite load counts, habitat specialization, and stable isotope analysis. Time requirements as specified by the ENVS internship office are 60 hours/quarter for 2-unit interns and 120 hours/quarter for 5-unit interns.

Contact: Alex Jones

Keywords:  Small Mammal Undergraduate Research in the Forest (SMURF); Natural History Museum; UC Natural Reserve System; population dynamics; UCSC Forest Ecology Research Plot; environmental and ecological questions; internship; surveying; handling, data entry; management;  project organization; design; data analysis; scientific writing; public speaking; senior thesis; volunteer; credit

Location Details: 
Forest Ecology Research Plot
Targeted Students/ Eligibity Requirements: 

Requirements for all interns:

  • Capable of working outdoors during hot or cold weather
  • Comfortable handling rodents
  • Willingness to be exposed to poison oak and ticks
  • Capable of lifting and carrying ~20 lbs of weight
  • Excellent communication and team work skills

Requirements for 5-unit interns only:

  • Some background in scientific writing and statistics
  • Ability to work independently and formulate new ideas
  • A passion for conducting research in ecology
Program Time Period: 
Academic Year
Winter Quarter
Spring Quarter
Fall Quarter
Academic Credit
Alex Jones
Contact Email:
Ecology and Evolution
Environmental Studies