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2022 Field Courses

student holds a scope up to a branch to observe lichens

"Hands-on" doesn't fully capture the type of learning that happens up north. Itasca is a living laboratory and learning community. Students come up north for a truly immersive experience. 

You won’t just learn what mammologists (people who study mammals), mycologists (people who study fungi), or animal behaviorists (that one is easy to guess) do… you’ll do what they do on a daily basis. You’ll set traps, key out samples, and design experiments, all with the guidance of supportive faculty mentors and peers.

Have questions about the experience up north? Watch an information session. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to email IBSL@umn.edu

Registration

  • Registration has closed for the 2022 season. Stay tuned for 2023 updates!

  • Non-UMN students can register for our field courses. Learn how to register.


2022 Field Courses

  • PMB 3802/5802: Field Microbiology

    3 credits | May 16 - June 3, 2022 | M, Tu, W, F | 8 - 11:50 a.m.

    This course covers methods of environmental microbiology. Students develop their own independent research ideas, and they integrate their data generation efforts with an existing infrastructure of analytical tools focused on microbes and their consequences in nature. We will learn how to sample from a variety of environments, isolate genomic DNA, PCR-amplify and then sequence and analyze 16s and ITS rRNA genes. Microbial community information will be integrated with environmental data. A focus of this course will be implementation of the MinION sequencing platform. 

    Instructors: Professors Jim Cotner (cotne002@umn.edu) and Jeff Gralnick (gralnick@umn.edu). Guest lecturers include Professors Trinity Hamilton, Katie Fixen and Kyle Costa.

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor. Permission is required for undergraduates to enroll in the graduate-level of this course (PMB 5802); inquire with the instructors. If you have any additional questions about the course, email the instructors.

  • PMB 3812/5812: Field Mycology

    3 credits | May 16 - June 3, 2022 | M, Tu, Th, F | 1 - 4:50 p.m.

    This class focuses on learning about how to study fungi. Students will gain experience identifying mushrooms and other samples collected during course field trips using macromorphological, microscopic, and molecular techniques. In addition, students will isolate fungi from environmental samples and maintain cultures as well as assess fungal community abundance and composition using both traditional (e.g. root tip colonization) and DNA-based methods (e.g. next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and ecological statistics). Course lectures highlight different aspects of fungal diversity (taxonomic, physiological, and ecological) and lab exercises provide hands-on practice. Course writing assignments and presentations emphasize the exploring the natural history of fungi as well as critically assessing primary research literature.

    Instructors: Professors Jonathan Schilling (schillin@umn.edu) and Peter Kennedy (kennedyp@umn.edu).

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor. Permission is required for undergraduates to enroll in the graduate-level of this course (PMB 5812); inquire with the instructor.

  • EEB 4844: Field Ornithology

    May 16 - June 3, 2022 | 3 credits | M, Tu, W, Th, F | 5:30 - 11:30 a.m.

    This class focuses on developing basic field ornithology skills, complemented by laboratory and computer analyses of field-collected samples. Students will learn field identification skills, focused on the diversity of northern Minnesota, and survey techniques to quantify community composition, density, and long term population trends. A diversity of habitats will be explored by day trips to nearby field sites. In addition, the course will review and practice methods for bird capture, handling, sampling, and marking. Blood samples collected during the course will be used by students for molecular sexing and PCR-based parasite surveillance, and vocalizations recorded during the course will be used to analyze individual and spatial variation in behavior. Written reports of field survey work, lab results, and quantitative analyses, along with field exams, will form the basis of assessment.

    Instructors: Keith Barker (barke042@umn.edu) and Sushma Reddy (sreddy@umn.edu)

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

  • EEB 3811W: Animal Behavior

    May 16 - June 16, 2022 | 4 credits | M, Th; full-day + 2 additional field days TBD

    This course introduces the principle concept of animal behavior through hypothesis-driven inquiry of animal systems in the field. Topics covered: proximate and ultimate causation of behavior, optimality, foraging, habitat selection, risk-sensitive behavior, antipredator behavior, courtship and territoriality, parental care and implications of animal behavior for resource management and conservation. Most class days begin with the introduction of a topic followed by a day-long field experiment involving the concept. Thus, students learn concepts in animal behavior and how to be an animal behaviorist. In the process, students acquire skills in data collection and management, and experimental design (controls, replication, conclusions based upon statistical inference, connecting class results to the primary literature).

    Instructor: Professor Brian Wisenden (wisenden@mnstate.edu).

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.

  • EEB 4839: Field Mammalogy

    May 17 - June 17, 2022 | 4 credits | Tu, F; full-day + 2 additional days TBD

    The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to the study of mammals, including aspects of their evolution, natural history, identification, and techniques used for scientific study. This course will enable students to integrate concepts of ecology, morphology, physiology, as well as other aspects of natural history using mammals as model organisms. This course will supplement knowledge of taxonomy, phylogeny, and ecology while providing practical experience with current methodology. Writing assignments will expose students to current literature and aid in the process of critical thinking.

    Instructor: Professor Joseph Whittaker (jwhittak@cord.edu)

    For a more information (including prerequisites) refer to the course catalog. If you have any questions about the course, email the instructor.


2022 Course Costs*

Room & Board (students incur one room & board charge regardless of concurrent registration in multiple Itasca courses)

  • 3-week courses — $796  
  • 5-week courses — $1344  

Tuition & Fees 

  • Transportation fee — $50 (per course)
  • Lab materials fee — $88 (per course)

Check the OneStop tuition page and fees page for tuition rates and other associated registration fees

*Scholarships are available to students cover the costs of Itasca field biology courses. 


COVID-19 Statement

As a University of Minnesota field station, we follow all University COVID-19 policies as it relates to housing, dining and classrooms. All University of Minnesota students enrolled online or in person (including all undergraduate, graduate, professional, and Post Secondary Enrollment Option) were asked to complete this Student COVID-19 Immunization Vaccination Form by Oct. 8, 2021. We anticipate formal guidance for the summer 2022 courses to come in the spring of 2022.

IBSL staff will continue to be in close contact with Collegiate and University leadership to ensure the safety of students and faculty during field courses. If you have any specific questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to email IBSL@umn.edu.