Baker University biology students will have opportunities to conduct more research and to partner with scientists and graduate and undergraduate students from across the country at the Baker University Wetlands, a 927-acre natural area just south of Lawrence, Kansas. The Organization of Biological Field Stations recently designated the Baker Wetlands a research field station.

The designation establishes the Baker University Wetlands as a research branch, known as the Wakarusa Field Station, and helps to promote the facility as a site for ecological research and field-based educational experiences where students mayhone their skills in research, critical thinking and effective communication.

“Receiving official research field designation is a great opportunity for the Baker Wetlands. This designation literally puts us on the map to attract researchers to conduct their research here while better preparing our students for graduate studies,” said Dr. Irene Unger, director of the Baker Wetlands.

Acquired by Baker University in 1968, the Baker Wetlands has a mission is to educate the community and students, restore and manage the habitat, and provide research opportunities to Baker students and staff. The new designation is part of the Wetlands’ phased efforts to continue this mission and raise its research capabilities.

The first phase of the plan to improve research opportunities is to upgrade and expand the current laboratory space in the Discovery Center, renovate the weather station, and install a PhenoCam to capture time-lapse video.

“We are thrilled that our students and the community will continue to benefit from the rich educational opportunities the Wakarusa Field Station provides,” said Dr. Darcy Russell, dean of theCollege of Arts and Sciences. “The station is a vital part of our community.”

Additional opportunities made possible by the research field station designation are to create a visiting scientist program and establish exchange programs with other universities. New programming will include a STEM camp for high school students and establishing an outdoor classroom pavilion near the Discovery Center.

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