Research project process and permits

Faculty, advanced students, and other independent investigators may apply to use the station facilities for research purposes during any season. The steps below outline the application process. Investigators with new projects should start at Step 1 – Contact the Station Scientist. Returning researchers with multi-year projects may skip to Step 2 – Apply for an IBSL Research Permit. Note: returning researchers need to submit a new application each year, even for continuing projects. 

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Step 1 – Contact the Station Scientist

To initiate research at IBSL, contact our Station Scientist at with the subject line “New Research Inquiry”. Include any relevant details about your project idea, such as equipment you might need or species/habitats you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – we are here to help!

Step 2 – Apply for an IBSL Research Permit

Once you have confirmation from the Station Scientist that IBSL can accommodate your research, you may submit your IBSL Research Permit application (refer to the pdf copy of application questions to prepare your application). To submit your application, fill out the form through the link below:

Apply for IBSL Research Permit

Please allow up to 2 weeks for confirmation that your application has been accepted for review. 

Step 3 – Request lodging

You will receive a confirmation email from the Station Scientist when your application has been accepted for review. A confirmation number specific to your project will be included in the email. You are then able to reserve lodging through our lodging request form on our “Request a Stay” webpage. You will need to enter your research application confirmation number in this form. Details about housing options are available on our lodging webpage

Step 4 – Apply for other permits

Researchers are responsible for obtaining appropriate state and federal permits. We are here to help if you have questions about which permits are needed. Email the Station Scientist at for assistance.
  • State Permits: Depending on your research subject and where you intend to conduct research, you may need to apply for multiple DNR research permits. All research activities within Itasca State Park require a Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails permit. Additional DNR permits may be required if your work involves endangered species, fisheries, Scientific Natural Areas, and other special topics. Refer to the link below to learn more about DNR permitting requirements:

DNR Research Permitting Info

  • Federal Permits: Some work may also require federal permits. Please check to ensure your proposed project complies with all federal requirements. Information on federal permits required for research activities involving vertebrates is included in this table
  • IACUC and IBC: Projects that include handling vertebrates or biological agents may require protocols approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). External researchers should check with their home institution for similar requirements.
Researchers must send copies of their other permits and approvals in order for their IBSL Research Permit to be approved. 

Step 5 – Review policies

Approval of your IBSL Research Permit is contingent on the following:

  1. All researchers and associated project personnel must read and agree to follow IBSL policies and code of conduct.
  2. The project PI has obtained correct permits and institutional approvals and provided current copies to the Station Scientist at
  3. All researchers and associated project personnel must complete project-specific safety and ethics trainings. Researchers from institutions outside of the University of Minnesota should complete their trainings through their own institutional portals. PIs are responsible for maintaining records of these trainings. 
  4. All researchers and associated project personnel must review IBSL Research Safety Information and general IBSL Health and Safety Information. PIs should use this information to develop a project-specific field safety plan which should be communicated to all members of your research team.
  5. PIs from institutions outside of the University of Minnesota who plan to use laboratory space must sign and submit the IBSL Laboratory Use Agreement form. 
  6. All researchers and associated project personnel planning to use IBSL motorized watercraft must submit the IBSL Motorboat Protocol Agreement form.
  7. Researchers whose work involves Tribal partners and/or resources are encouraged to review the UMN Guidelines for Indigenous Research, to assist you in consideration of Tribal sovereignty as you prepare for your project.
  8. The project PI agrees to inform IBSL of publications, completed thesis/dissertation, and published datasets resulting from fieldwork at the station and will send IBSL copies of annual permit reports.

Step 6 – IBSL Research Permit is issued

After IBSL has received all the information described above, including any external permits and internal station forms, the Station Scientist will send you the IBSL Research Permit fill out and sign. Once you have filled it out, return the permit to for the Station Scientist signature. You will be emailed the final signed copy for your records. Once you receive this, you are approved to begin work at the station. Click below to view a sample copy of this permit.

IBSL Research Permit 

Pine trees at Itasca with a sunset in the background