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K-12 Education

CAP LTER engages K-12 teachers and students through its award-winning Ecology Explorers program. Ecology Explorers works to improve science literacy by introducing teachers and students to actual research conducted by university-level scientists and by involving K-12 students in scientific investigations. Highly regarded teacher professional development workshops provide teachers with urban ecology curriculum that meets state standards while classroom visits engage K-12 students in the exciting research done by CAP LTER scientists.

Phoenix is an expanding urban area within the Sonoran Desert. The Sonoran Desert includes some of the most diverse native plant and animal species of any desert in the world.

We have developed a variety of lessons that cover a wide range of concepts in urban ecology and sustainability.


You can study and learn about the our urban ecosystem through scientific protocols and other learning activities.

Undergraduate and Graduate Education

How to get involved in CAP LTER

two-researchers-in-the-grassThe Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) program involves undergraduate and graduate students in research and education outreach. We welcome students from the physical, biological, engineering, and social sciences as well as those from the humanities interested in socio-ecological systems. While our work is centered on efforts at our home institution, Arizona State University, we do offer some opportunities for students from other colleges and universities to become involved in CAP LTER, such as our Research for Undergraduates (REU) program.

The first step to becoming involved is to send a message to expressing your interest in becoming involved in CAP LTER. We can put you on our email distribution list to receive information about our opportunities and our ongoing research. You should also visit the CAP LTER website to get news of upcoming events and opportunities and follow us on Twitter.

Many students become involved in CAP LTER through establishing contact with faculty involved in our research program. A list of CAP LTER’s faculty research teams is under , which also provides descriptions of faculty research interests.

Our website provides information about components of our long-term research program and current and past research. Browse this information to better understand how your research interests may fit within the CAP LTER research program.

We maintain an active education program, Ecology Explorers, that engages teachers, students, and citizen scientists in efforts to enhance STEM education and learn about the urban environment and the desert mountain parks surrounding Phoenix. If you are interested in becoming involved in education and outreach, contact .

Student Research

CAP LTER involves many students every year in research, either through student research projects or through working with faculty on their research initiatives.

We support student research in two major ways: the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program and the Graduate Grants program. Both of these programs emphasize students learning and growing as research investigators while completing well-defined projects.

Faculty-led research is supported through funding to faculty from CAP LTER and Arizona State University units. Students interested in working on faculty research initiatives should visit the page to connect with relevant faculty.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

CAP LTER provides opportunities for undergraduate students to apply theories and principles learned in the classroom to field and laboratory research.

The Graduate Grants program supports graduate thesis and dissertation research as well as collaborative research among two or more graduate students in the broad field of urban ecosystem research.

Each year CAP LTER presents awards to the best posters at its annual poster symposium.

Recent CAP LTER Theses and Dissertations