**See below for application instructions**

The application deadline for consideration in 2025 is September 18, 2024


The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) and the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) in Galápagos are excited to offer an immersive, experiential undergraduate research opportunity that engages both indigenous and western science and culture on island invasion biology in the Galápagos and Hawaiian archipelagoes. This two semester research experience includes: (i) a required Spring lab and lecture course in Island Invasion Biology, and (ii) an eight week, immersive, all expenses paid summer research experience in Galápagos. Embracing traditional Hawaiian knowledge and Western science, this unique program aligns with UH Mānoa’s strategic goal to becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning (NHPoL), and combines scientific exploration with Hawaiian ways of knowing to weave indigenous and Western knowledge systems to better understand and manage invasive species in Pacific Island ecosystems. This program will enable undergraduate students to engage in international, faculty mentored research via a transformative journey that promotes deeper connections to ʻāina (land/sea) and kānaka (people) communities, and mālama ʻāina (stewardship of places and people).

Spring 2025 Island Invasion Biology Course

This course on Island Invasion Biology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) is designed to provide a broad overview of the ecology and management of invasive species in island ecosystems, and will serve as the foundation for your summer research experience with the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) in Galápagos. Overall, the course and research experience are designed to equip students with essential knowledge and skills to understand the complex challenges posed by invasive species in tropical island ecosystems. Importantly, students will develop a sense of environmental stewardship through the principles of mālama ʻāina to gain an appreciation for Hawai‘i’s people and ecosystems. Learning opportunities will be focused on the principles, theories and practical applications of invasive species, along with their societal, ecological, evolutionary, and environmental impacts and management options, to gain a deep understanding of invasions in island ecosystems. The course aims to provide an understanding of the ethical responsibilities and conservation principles associated with place-based indigenous resource management and pono science. Hawaiʻi and Galápagos provide excellent model systems due to their geographic isolation, diverse ecosystems, and the historical and ongoing challenges posed by invasive species. The course emphasizes the unique cultural and ecological context of Hawaiʻi while connecting it to the broader global context of invasive species research, making it relevant to the local community and promoting a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving native Hawaiian environments in line with UHM’s commitment to becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning (NHPoL).

The laboratory component of this course explores island invasion biology through both a group project and development of individual research proposals to be conducted in the Galápagos and/or Hawaiian Islands. Throughout the semester, you will establish connections with UHM and CDF research mentors that will be instrumental in shaping your research projects, fostering place-based mālama ʻāina principles, and ensuring that your fieldwork aligns with pono science and ongoing research on invasive species. Many of the assignments will be centered around developing your research proposal and completing the group project, including the selection of mentors, creating outlines, and several draft proposals. You will explore the fundamentals of experimental design, data collection, indigenous resource management, statistical analyses, and the ethical and responsible conduct of scientific research. Through the process of working on your group research project you will develop skills in conducting fieldwork, data analyses, presentation, and writing, which will be foundational in the concurrent development of your individual research proposals. There will be 1-2 required field days on a Saturday during the semester (dates TBD based on student availability).

Summer 2025 Research in Galápagos

In Summer 2025, students will have the opportunity to travel to Galápagos for an immersive, 8-week research experience (costs associated with travel, lodging and a summer stipend will be covered for each student). This is a unique opportunity to conduct field research in one of the world’s most iconic island ecosystems. Over the course of eight weeks, students will work closely with CDF experts and UHM faculty mentors to conduct independent invasion biology research projects while exploring the Galápagos Islands’ unique flora and fauna and gaining invaluable hands-on research experience. The Spring 2025 lab component of this research experience will center around finalizing a proposal and working collaboratively with your CDF mentor so you are ready to conduct your project when you arrive. Students traveling to Galápagos in Summer 2025 are encouraged to continue working with their UHM and CDF mentors after returning to finalize and publish their research findings. 

Target dates for the research experience in Galápagos are June and July of 2024; actual departure and return dates will be confirmed in the Spring 2025 semester.

Program Personnel


**To be eligible to apply students must be enrolled as a classified undergraduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and graduating no earlier than December 2025 (all majors are invited to apply).**


**This course will also be offered in 2026. Students wishing to participate in that year are still encouraged to apply as are students who are unable to commit to travel during the summer months.**

Before starting the submission process, make sure to get a few things ready:

    • Resumé/CV (attachment, optional)
    • Transcript (attachment, downloaded from STAR, required)
    • 3 professional references (Name, email, and phone numbers, required)
References will be invited to fill out a short google survey and will only be contacted subsequent to an initial screening process.

Priority will be given to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students, but all students from all majors at UHM are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be citizens, nationals, or permanent residents of the United States.

There are several short answer prompts in this application, you should plan to spend at least an hour completing them. You do not have to complete this in one sitting and can save your progress and return to the application.

A subset of students will be invited to participate in a community workday at Ulupō on Saturday October 12, 2024. More information can be found here.

For any questions please contact Jimmy Fumo (jfumo@hawaii.edu)

Deadline September 18

Previous years

photo credit: Aaliyah Thomas


Creating the Ka‘ao

All students focused on their ka‘ao as well on their research project. The ka‘ao documents the journey of discovery, thereby crafting the story of the huakaʻi (journey) to and from the Galápagos Islands through a Native Hawaiian cosmological and cultural perspective. As such, students created the kaʻao (legend, epic tale) of this huakaʻi through writing, photography, videos, or other creative media using Hawaiian epistemology and ways of knowing and doing. All participating students and faculty experienced a new culture in Galápagos on this huakaʻi to a distant Pacific Island chain.

Terrestrial Invasion Ecology

Students focusing on this project aimed to understand the history of invasion on the uninhabited island of Santa Fé. Feral goats were removed from the island about half a century ago and giant tortoises were re-introduced in the last decades. Student projects focused on the effect of feral goal removal as well as tortoise and iguana presence on the plant communities of the island.

Photo credit: Bernie Jacome

Marine Invasions

Students focused on this project continued research to understand the extent and impact of non-indigenous species on marine ecosystems of the Galápagos Marine Reserve, particularly the green alga Caulerpa racemosa. They also conducted experiments using the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) benthic data to conduct species distribution modeling for the species throughout the archipelago. Students also used instrumentation to conduct salinity surveys at Playa de la Estación near CDF to map the occurence of Submarine Groundwater Discharge.

Photo credit: Andres Cruz

Ornithology and Entomology

Students focused on this project got a first-hand look at the challenges involved in researching techniques to reduce the impacts of the invasive Avian Vampire Fly, Philornis downsi, on Darwin’s finches and other small land birds. Students participated in research to understand the biology of P. downsi and improve techniques for captive breeding flies, this with the aim of ensuring that sufficient flies are available for testing potential control methods. In the field, students participated in research to improve current trapping methods and map the hatching time for the species.

Photo credit: Carlos Espinosa

Charles Darwin Foundation Principal Investigators

Dr. Charlotte Causton

Dr. Causton has worked with the Charles Darwin Research Station in different projects since 1997, including terrestrial invertebrate research programs. She has extensive experience developing methods for controlling invasive insects and restoring ecosystems in areas of conservation importance. She oversaw the biological control program against the cottony cushion scale using the Australian ladybug and is currently coordinating an international effort to control the population of the invasive Philornis downsi fly, which is threatening many endemic bird species in Galápagos.

Dr. Heinke Jäger

After working eight years in agricultural research at the University in Kiel, Germany, Heinke studied biology at the Universities of Konstanz and Oldenburg, Germany. She started working at the Charles Darwin Foundation in 1998, first on the introduced quinine tree (Cinchona pubescens) and then on rare and endangered plant species. After receiving her PhD from Technical University Berlin, Germany, she carried out her postdoctoral research on invasive Galapagos species at Brown University, USA. She is now a senior scientist at CDF and her research is focused on investigating invasive terrestrial plant and animal species and the restoration of the endangered Scalesia forests in Galapagos. This research includes estimating the distribution of these species, vegetation mapping, evaluation of the impacts of invasive species and the impacts of their control on resident species, soil and microclimate, as well as the restoration of invaded ecosystems.

Dr. Inti Keith

Inti has worked with the CDRS in different marine projects since 2010, including shark tagging, sea turtle monitoring and ecological monitoring before completing her PhD on Marine Invasive Species in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. She now leads the Marine Invasive Species Programme and the long term Subtidal Ecological Monitoring Programme as well as being the science group coordinator for the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor initiative (CMAR). Her interests lie in understanding the current status of the Galápagos Marine Reserve and evaluate the impacts non-native species can have on marine biodiversity, ecosystem services and the health of the GMR. As part of her research she is interested in the connectivity that exists between the different Marine Protected Areas in the region, which is why she has expanded her research throughout the Eastern Tropical Pacific region.

She is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Invasive Species Specialist Group and the Galápagos Plant Specialist group as well as having ongoing collaborations with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Southampton University and the University of Malaga.


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