Penn Global Research Institutes

The Penn Global Research Institutes (PGRI) provide outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to conduct research abroad alongside Penn faculty during the summer.

Program features and facts:

  • Work as part of a small research team abroad made up of Penn students, a Penn faculty PI, and local community members and researchers to address major global challenges

  • Gain access to hands-on research experience in the field as well as mentorship and training opportunities to support you in presenting, publishing, and continuing your research 

  • Receive funding to offset all summer research project and travel expenses

PGRI: Summer 2022

Galápagos Education and Research Alliance 

decorative imageThe Galápagos Education and Research Alliance (GERA) is a partnership between Galapagueños and students and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, and Virginia Tech. They address crucial issues facing the Galápagos, including science, education, and conservation initiatives, by partnering with the people of the Galápagos, especially the community of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island.

  • The Penn Global Research Institute opportunity with GERA will take place over a full calendar year, from January – December 2022.

  • Each PGRI participant will receive funding to cover all required costs associated with Summer 2022 travel abroad to Ecuador, plus a stipend.

  • All full-time, degree-seeking Penn undergraduate students from all schools and majors, as well as all full-time Master of Public Health (MPH) masters students, are eligible to apply.

Program Structure

The Penn Global Research Institute opportunity with GERA will take place over a full calendar year, from January – December 2022. The program structure will be as follows:

Spring 2022

During the Spring 2022 semester, program participants will acquaint themselves with all ongoing GERA projects and the context for their work in the Galápagos. Participants will be expected to go through an onboarding workshop at the start of the semester and assist with general lab duties including attending weekly lab meetings, participating in lab journal club, and maintaining dialogue with advisors. Students will also use the spring semester to develop a detailed protocol for their summer research project based on conversations with GERA faculty and Galapagueño community partners. Research projects will fall within the scope of GERA’s existing work and involve the local community in a meaningful way. Project development will include a literature review, project proposal, a Philadelphia-based pilot, and several rounds of refinement based on feedback from faculty advisors and Galapagueños. A commitment of 5hr/wk is expected.

Summer 2022

During Summer 2022, program participants will travel abroad to the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador for 8 weeks to carry out their research projects. Students will stay with a host family for the duration of the stay. All participants will be in charge of implementing their personal research projects in partnership with their selected community partners. Additionally, participants will be expected to assist other students with their summer projects and contribute to ongoing GERA projects. Participants will be in close contact with Galápagos-based GERA co-director Ernesto Vaca throughout the summer. They will also be expected to provide weekly updates to the GERA lab manager as well as a short mid-summer progress report.

Fall 2022

During the Fall 2022 semester, program participants will be expected to produce a write-up of their project and findings, working towards publication. Each student will present their findings at a GERA lab meeting and a research symposium at Penn. Participants will also be expected to maintain contact with community partners and develop a plan to disseminate their research findings in the Galápagos community. Participants will be expected to maintain normal GERA lab duties throughout the semester. Finally, all participants will lead an information session for potential incoming PGRI students.

Research Projects

Each accepted program participant will be responsible for developing an independent research project related to one or more of the five main areas of GERA’s work, listed below. While some potential projects have been included below, PGRI participants will work in collaboration with the GERA team to co-develop a project based on their interests and experience.

  1. Community science

    • Using mobile qPCR to investigate marine ecosystem health quality 

    • Developing a comprehensive natural history of the nearshore marine environment

    • Creating a long-term plan for the improvement of the agricultural system of Galápagos

  2. Climate Change Adaptation

    • Developing and leading workshops to capture local knowledge

    • Designing novel climate change education techniques

  3. One Health

    • Developing a nutrition education program

    • Using qPCR technology to test tap and bottled water quality

    • Investigating the mental health impacts of climate change on children

  4. Green Business Consulting

    • Researching the coffee system of Galápagos and potential export models

    • Developing a detailed profile of the Galápagos economy

  5. Education          

    • Leading training workshops for local teachers related to the new curriculum of Galápagos

    • Developing programming for a public astronomy program

    • Using underwater drones for marine ecology education

  6. Other projects

    • Collecting oral histories of long-term residents

Funding

Each PGRI participant will receive full funding to cover all required costs associated with Summer 2022 travel abroad to Ecuador. This includes funding to cover the cost of round-trip airfare, accommodation for 8 weeks in a homestay, all meals, and research-related supplies.

In addition, each PGRI participant will receive a stipend of $2,500 in support of their research project. Please note that all funding awards are taxable.

Eligibility

All full-time, degree-seeking Penn undergraduate students from all schools and majors, as well as all full-time Master of Public Health (MPH) masters students, are eligible to apply.

In addition, competitive applicants will have a demonstrated interest in community engagement and conservation. Research experience and Spanish proficiency are welcomed but not required. GERA projects are very multidisciplinary and participants will be expected to learn about new fields and research techniques.  Although faculty will always be on hand to provide advice, participants will be expected to take ownership of their research and be self-motivated to design and implement their projects. Working in the Galápagos can be slightly unpredictable and strong applicants will have demonstrated their ability to be flexible and excited to think on their feet. Lastly, GERA is built on successful and long-term relationships with the Galápagos community and successful applicants will be eager to engage and share with community partners.

Interested students must attend an information session on December 1 or December 3 in order to be eligible. See the "How to Apply' information for more details. 

How to Apply

Penn undergraduate and MPH masters students interested in applying for this opportunity must first attend an information session and should then submit an online application.

Step 1: Attend a PGRI Galápagos Information Session. Use the links below to register for an upcoming 1-hour session (registration will open/links will be added on 11/24):

Step 2: Submit an online application by Sunday, December 19th

  • The link to the application will be provided to all attendees of the above mandatory information sessions.

Program Structure

The Penn Global Research Institute opportunity with GERA will take place over a full calendar year, from January – December 2022. The program structure will be as follows:

Spring 2022

During the Spring 2022 semester, program participants will acquaint themselves with all ongoing GERA projects and the context for their work in the Galápagos. Participants will be expected to go through an onboarding workshop at the start of the semester and assist with general lab duties including attending weekly lab meetings, participating in lab journal club, and maintaining dialogue with advisors. Students will also use the spring semester to develop a detailed protocol for their summer research project based on conversations with GERA faculty and Galapagueño community partners. Research projects will fall within the scope of GERA’s existing work and involve the local community in a meaningful way. Project development will include a literature review, project proposal, a Philadelphia-based pilot, and several rounds of refinement based on feedback from faculty advisors and Galapagueños. A commitment of 5hr/wk is expected.

Summer 2022

During Summer 2022, program participants will travel abroad to the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador for 8 weeks to carry out their research projects. Students will stay with a host family for the duration of the stay. All participants will be in charge of implementing their personal research projects in partnership with their selected community partners. Additionally, participants will be expected to assist other students with their summer projects and contribute to ongoing GERA projects. Participants will be in close contact with Galápagos-based GERA co-director Ernesto Vaca throughout the summer. They will also be expected to provide weekly updates to the GERA lab manager as well as a short mid-summer progress report.

Fall 2022

During the Fall 2022 semester, program participants will be expected to produce a write-up of their project and findings, working towards publication. Each student will present their findings at a GERA lab meeting and a research symposium at Penn. Participants will also be expected to maintain contact with community partners and develop a plan to disseminate their research findings in the Galápagos community. Participants will be expected to maintain normal GERA lab duties throughout the semester. Finally, all participants will lead an information session for potential incoming PGRI students.

Research Projects

Each accepted program participant will be responsible for developing an independent research project related to one or more of the five main areas of GERA’s work, listed below. While some potential projects have been included below, PGRI participants will work in collaboration with the GERA team to co-develop a project based on their interests and experience.

  1. Community science

    • Using mobile qPCR to investigate marine ecosystem health quality 

    • Developing a comprehensive natural history of the nearshore marine environment

    • Creating a long-term plan for the improvement of the agricultural system of Galápagos

  2. Climate Change Adaptation

    • Developing and leading workshops to capture local knowledge

    • Designing novel climate change education techniques

  3. One Health

    • Developing a nutrition education program

    • Using qPCR technology to test tap and bottled water quality

    • Investigating the mental health impacts of climate change on children

  4. Green Business Consulting

    • Researching the coffee system of Galápagos and potential export models

    • Developing a detailed profile of the Galápagos economy

  5. Education          

    • Leading training workshops for local teachers related to the new curriculum of Galápagos

    • Developing programming for a public astronomy program

    • Using underwater drones for marine ecology education

  6. Other projects

    • Collecting oral histories of long-term residents

Funding

Each PGRI participant will receive full funding to cover all required costs associated with Summer 2022 travel abroad to Ecuador. This includes funding to cover the cost of round-trip airfare, accommodation for 8 weeks in a homestay, all meals, and research-related supplies.

In addition, each PGRI participant will receive a stipend of $2,500 in support of their research project. Please note that all funding awards are taxable.

Eligibility

All full-time, degree-seeking Penn undergraduate students from all schools and majors, as well as all full-time Master of Public Health (MPH) masters students, are eligible to apply.

In addition, competitive applicants will have a demonstrated interest in community engagement and conservation. Research experience and Spanish proficiency are welcomed but not required. GERA projects are very multidisciplinary and participants will be expected to learn about new fields and research techniques.  Although faculty will always be on hand to provide advice, participants will be expected to take ownership of their research and be self-motivated to design and implement their projects. Working in the Galápagos can be slightly unpredictable and strong applicants will have demonstrated their ability to be flexible and excited to think on their feet. Lastly, GERA is built on successful and long-term relationships with the Galápagos community and successful applicants will be eager to engage and share with community partners.

Interested students must attend an information session on December 1 or December 3 in order to be eligible. See the "How to Apply' information for more details. 

How to Apply

Penn undergraduate and MPH masters students interested in applying for this opportunity must first attend an information session and should then submit an online application.

Step 1: Attend a PGRI Galápagos Information Session. Use the links below to register for an upcoming 1-hour session (registration will open/links will be added on 11/24):

Step 2: Submit an online application by Sunday, December 19th

  • The link to the application will be provided to all attendees of the above mandatory information sessions.

For more information about the Penn Global Research Institutes, please email Erica Sebastian at esebast@upenn.edu.