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Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

Visiting Harvard Forest

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Sledding is allowed on the Harvard Farm December - April.  Snowmobiling is prohibited at all times.

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Harvard Forest Offices are open weekdays: 8:30am - 4:30pm

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324 North Main Street, Petersham MA 01366

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(978) 724-3595(Fax)
(978) 724-3302 (Voice)

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**PLEASE NOTE: In compliance with Harvard University policy to reduce the risk of COVID-19, Harvard Forest office buildings and the Fisher Museum are closed to the public until further notice.**
The Fisher Museum's Summer Hours (May through October) are 9:00am -5:00pm on weekdays, and 12:00pm - 4:00pm on weekends.
Winter Hours are 9:00am - 5:00pm on weekdays.
The Museum is closed on University holidays.
Visit the Museum page for Special Events and Closings. 

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Camping is not permitted at Harvard Forest, but local Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels and Campgrounds can be found easily within a 20 mile radius.  You can also find directions to local resources (i.e. groceries, pharmacies etc...).

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Horseback riding is permitted on the dirt roads at Harvard Forest. Please be aware that research vehicles, hikers, and mountain bikers may also be using these roads at any time.Visit /museum/recreation.html for other recreation policies at Harvard Forest

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Except for a few intensive research areas, hunting is allowed at Harvard Forest in the seasons and according to the regulations of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

The few intensive research areas where hunting is restricted are clearly posted. There is also no hunting allowed in the vicinity of Harvard Pond, which is a wildlife preserve, or at the Matthews Plantation in Hamilton, Mass.

See our Petersham map (2017) of the areas where hunting is restricted.

Research

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Grazing on the Harvard Farm typically begins May 1st and ends November 30th. 

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The Harvard Forest Archives maintains a map and photo collection which covers our present and historical research interests. Anyone interested should contact the Archivist at (978)-724-3302 or email hflib@fas.harvard.edu to determine whether we have material which fits your needs prior to making a visit.

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We welcome offers of donations of archival items related to the study of ecology. Please contact the Archivist at (978)-724-3302 ext 277 or email hflib@fas..harvard.edu to discuss whether the Archives are an appropriate repository for your items; if possible provide a specific list.

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Prior to any visit, please contact Elaine Doughty at (978)-724-3302 ext 229 or email hflib@fas.harvard.edu to ensure that staff will be able to assist you on your visit.

Education

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Tours are available. Please visit /museum/tours.html for contact information. 

Your backyard

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For information about trees, tree pests and tree diseases, visit the Massachusetts arborists web site at http://www.massarbor.org/ or Certified Tree and Lawn Specialists at http://www.certifiedtreeandlawn.org or the UMASS Extension Landscape Nursery and Urban Forestry School

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For more information, visit the MassWoods Forest Conservation Program's web site: http://masswoods.net/

Support Harvard Forest

Summer Research Program FAQs

Students

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Projects require that students start with the program and stay for the full 11 weeks.  If you cannot participate fully in the program, you are still welcome to apply, just note the dates you will be available clearly at the top of your personal essay. 

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Participation in the program is open only to those are legally authorized to be employed by Harvard University in the United States.  A majority of our funding is only open to U.S. citizens or green card holders.  If you are not a citizen or green card holder, you are still welcome to apply, but note your chances of participating in the program are very low.  For the 2021 virtual program only, students who are US Citizens and Resident Aliens can be based anywhere in the world with reliable internet.

International students currently attending a US school may be eligible to participate in the program if you are able to secure your own funding. Harvard University will not be able to pay for any stipends, room & board, and travel costs.

International students NOT attending school currently in the US are not eligible for this program.  Harvard University will be unable to assist in obtaining such employment authorization for this program and the Harvard International Office cannot answer inquiries about any individual's eligibility.



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The core of our funding is for undergraduate students who are enrolled in a 2 or 4 year colleges. Students who have completed their associates degree (2 year program) and are going on to get a bachelor's degree (4 year program) are also encouraged to apply and will be considered as part of the general applicant pool. Other individuals (non-student or graduate student status) are welcome to apply but should be aware that we may not have funding for any such positions.

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Most mentors look at applicants who picked their projects as a first or second choice, and sometimes at applicants who picked projects in related areas. What is most important to a mentor varies greatly. Some emphasize previous coursework, good grades, extracurricular activities, or relevant work experience, where as other mentors look for a student with excellent potential but in need of a first research experience. The one area all mentors agree is invaluable is the personal essay as a discussion of the applicant's background and his/her interest in the projects offered in this year's program. Avoid submitting a generic essay with the theme that this would be a good internship experience for you or that it will help you get into graduate or professional school. Instead, pick your projects carefully, then spend time using your personal essay to explain your selections. The best applicants spend time perusing the Harvard Forest web site and craft a thoughtful essay about their individual interests, why they have picked the projects listed, why the Harvard Forest in particular interests them, and how this internship program will help them further develop their career goals. This of course takes more time, but investing an hour or two in research and writing your essay often makes an application stand out from the rest, and significantly increases your chances of being interviewed. 

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If you are changing referee information, you must email hf-srpe@fas.harvard.edu with the subject line: SUMMER PROGRAM REFEREE CHANGE. 

The email should include:
1. Your student application name
2. The name of the reference you want to have UNLOCKED

The reference will be unlocked and you will receive confirmation. 
Please note: This change will UNSUBMIT your application if it was already submitted. Please edit with the proper referee information and remember to SUBMIT. 

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Upon submission of your application, you will receive a confirmation email. After each of your reference writers submits your recommendation, you will receive an email notice as well. Please confirm your status on-line. If you believe that the on-line status is incorrect, contact hf-srpe@fas.harvard.edu. 

Please be advised that many emails are being filtered out into spam or trash.  

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Applications will be reviewed in late February. Soon thereafter, mentors will contact top candidates for an interview. All applicants will be officially notified of their status (acceptance/rejection) by email by the end of March.

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If your school has funding for student summer research projects, please do apply for the funding. We only admit the exact number of students we have funding for but often have additional projects for which we do not have sufficient funds to support a student. Students who are able to obtain support  from other sources to defray travel costs, stipends, research supplies, etc.  should indicate this on their application. This supplemental funding often allows us to support additional students.

Note: Securing external funding does not gurantee a position in the summer program.

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We encourage students to work with faculty at their home institution to receive academic credit for their summer work. Please inquire at your school about the process.

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May 24, 2021 - August 6, 2021

The program runs for 11 weeks beginning Monday, May 24, 2021 and ending at 5 pm on Friday, August 6, 2021. The annual (this year, online) Summer Student Symposium will be held on Thursday, August 5, 2021 to which family and friends are welcome to attend.

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Student compensation includes the following:

  • $9,350 stipend for the 11-week session, inclusive of support for living and home office expenses
  • If needed, Harvard Forest can provide a laptop, other necessary computer hardware, and/or a Wi-Fi hotspot, for the duration of the program
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Students work typically 40 hours per week, however actual hours vary depending on project needs. Some projects require early morning, late night or weekend work; details will be included in the project description, and will be discussed by the researcher/mentor during the interview process. Work includes all aspects of the research process, including field and laboratory data collection, data management and analysis, and developing methods, proposals, and presentations. In addition, there are one-hour educational workshops and seminars held one to two evenings per week after dinner. All participants are required to attend these educational programs. 

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Similar to most REU programs, the Harvard Forest Summer Program receives many more applications than available funded positions. Overall, the pool of students hired will come with a wide variety of experience and educational backgrounds. A small but significant portion of students hired are rising sophmores who show an interest in ecology but of course do not have significant course work or experience. The majority of students hired are rising juniors and seniors who have a background in relevant science courses. We actively recruit students from small colleges, minority serving colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, and schools with limited opportunities to get "hands on" research experience. The most competitive applicants have demonstrated an ability to take initiative and responsibility, whether by work or volunteer experience. We do NOT have any minimum GPA requirement or specific courses that are prerequisites, and many students hired do not have previous field experience.. 

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The summer program is a core part of the research and education mission of Harvard Forest. While every student, mentor, and project is different, we place high expectations on all the students and their mentors to ensure everyone has an excellent, albeit demanding, research experience. These expectations are stated explicitly for mentors and students and program staff seek to ensure all participants understand them and act within this spirit.
Students are expected to comply with the Code of Conduct, which they sign as part of their acceptance materials. This code clearly states that all illegal drug use is prohibited and only students who are of legal age to drink may to do so. The Code is taken quite seriously at the Harvard Forest and violation of it may lead to discipline or dismissal from the program. 

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Because the 2021 program is virtual, many of the health risks associated with working at a field station are not applicable. We recognize the stress and isolation of working virtually. We are committed to building community among the program participants. While we are not trained mental health counsellors, we are open to discussing stresses participants are facing and helping students connect to resources. 

There are health risks associated with lab and field research. Students working in the lab may be exposed to caustic chemicals and other toxic substances. Students working in the field often travel over uneven ground, and through areas with biting insects, falling trees, and thorny plants.

The most common health problems result from reactions to biting insects, including mosquitoes, wasps and bees, and ticks. The most common cause for medical treatment is when students exhibit symptoms of Lyme disease following a tick bite. We monitor such situations very closely to ensure that anyone showing symptoms of Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. For more information about Lyme disease, please see Centers for Disease Control  http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/  National Science Foundation (NSF) Discoveries - Lyme Disease: Ten things you always wanted to know about ticks...http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=131439&WT.mc_id=USNSF_1

Please know that we work hard to ensure the health and safety off all our staff and students. We spend a substantial portion of the program orientation in safety training. Finally, students are not allowed to do work with hazardous chemicals in the labs during off hours and solo field work is discouraged. 

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Harvard Forest does not provide general health insurance for summer student interns. All enrolled undergraduates should be covered by their own health insurance policy. Students injured during non-work time are responsible for the costs of any health care required. Harvard's Workers Compensation Policy may cover injuries sustained while working for the program; the final determination will be made by the insurance company, and a remote work situation makes this more complicated than usual.

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For our 2021 virtual program, the proctor will facilitate community-building and organize the education programs. The proctor is available to counsel students about problems, and ensures that students follow the Code of Conduct, 

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You are welcome to use your own computer for the research and program activities. If you do not have a computer with sufficient processing speed to fully participate in the research, education, or community activities, the Harvard Forest can loan you a laptop for the duration of the program. Likewise, the Harvard Forest can loan you a Wi-Fi hotspot if internet bandwidth is a limitation to your participation. 

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Visit the summer program blog to learn more about what interns have done during and after their internships. 

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Choose reference writers who know you well and can speak to your strengths, regardless of their affiliation. Referees needn’t be faculty but should be able to comment on your skills relevant to the program, such as academic/research experience, analytical and communication abilities, creativity, and ability to work on a team. Don’t choose referees who are family members or close family friends.

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For the 2021 virtual program only, students who are US Citizens and Resident Aliens can be based anywhere in the world with reliable internet. Some aspects of the program will be centered on the US Eastern time zone. For example, most seminars and workshops are in the late afternoon or early evening. Work day flexibility will vary by research project but expect group meetings to be within the typical Monday through Friday 9am - 5pm (US Eastern) workday. Students should expect to treat participation in this program as a full-time job (40 hours per week during regular working days). In other words, the level of participation will be equal to when students are living and working full time at the field station when the program is not run in a virtual format.

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Harvard University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law. Harvard is committed to enriching its educational experience and its culture through the diversity of its faculty, administration and staff. Harvard Forest is striving to be a welcoming and inclusive community and we encourage all qualified applicants to apply.  Please see the Harvard Forest Diversity and Inclusion Statement.

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Because we receive nearly 500 applications every year for the Harvard Forest Summer Research Program, we are unable to provide detailed feedback to anyone that we are unable to hire. The most common reasons that an applicant was not hired are listed below.

 

1. The applicant’s aspirations and goals do not match up well with projects. There is intense competition for each position. Applicants whose personal aspirations, educational pathways, or career goals as discussed in their essay do not fit well with a particular project are unlikely to be hired. For example, if a student writes that s/he is pursuing a goal in wetland management or pollution control but has identified a project on small mammal dynamics in hemlock forests as her/his first choice, there is a clear mismatch.

 2. The applicant’s letters of recommendation are non-specific or weak. It is very important that the faculty advisor, teacher, or employer writing a letter of recommendation writes a strong letter that is focused on the match between the summer research program/project and the applicant’s aspirations and goals. Students not only should ask a potential reference if s/he can write a letter of recommendation but also should ask if s/he can write a strong letter of recommendation. Follow up with a discussion of the summer research program and how it meshes with the student’s short- and long-term goals.

 3. The applicant lacks particular skills. Although most of our projects do not require particular skills, some do. For example, projects involving computer programming may require that students already have facility with a specific programming language such as Java, R, or C. For other projects, demonstration of work-skills, commitment to a job, or leadership will be more important.

 4. The applicant has too much previous REU experience. Summer research programs like that at Harvard Forest are Research Experiences for Undergraduates. In general, we hire students who have not had a previous paid summer or academic-year research internship so that we can provide them with a first research experience.

 5. The applicant is not academically well prepared. Demonstration that the applicant has had lab- or field-based coursework that emphasizes the scientific method is important. We do not use a particular grade-point average (GPA) as a reason to decline an applicant. However, reasons for unusually poor grades in science courses should be discussed in essays and/or letters of recommendations.

 6. The applicant is indifferent or unenthusiastic during the application process or interviews. One of the most important characteristics of successful applicants is enthusiasm. It is important to respond promptly to e-mails and be available for scheduled interviews. We seek students who not only really want to do research in the summer but also really want to do that research at the Harvard Forest. This is not simply another internship.

 7. The applicant is disrespectful during interviews. The Harvard Forest Summer Research Program is an intensive 11-week residential experience. Students ranging in age from 17 to > 40, coming from different parts of the world and with different backgrounds, live together, work together, and play together all summer. It is important that the participants demonstrate an ability to respect their peers and mentors.

 8. The applicant cannot be here for the full length of the program. Students are expected to be at the Harvard Forest from the day before the program starts until the last day of the program. In most years, the program starts the 3rd week of May and ends the first week of August. Trimesters that run into mid-June, extended summer vacations, or other conflicts rarely can be accommodated.

 9. The applicant currently is not enrolled in a 2- or 4-year college or university. The vast majority of the available funding for our summer research program can be used only to support undergraduate students (including students who are planning to enroll as freshman in the coming fall). Only on rare occasions can we can support one or two students who have already graduated from college or who are already enrolled in a M.Sc. program.

 10. The applicant is not a U.S. citizen or green-card holder. The vast majority of the available funding for our summer research program can be used only to support students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Only on rare occasions can we can support one or two students who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents.

 11. There are simply too many good applicants. Even after we have winnowed the applicant pool based on the preceding ten criteria, there are still far more highly qualified applicants than we can possibly hire in any given summer. If the applicant is willing, we can share their application with other REU programs with which we interact.



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Send an email to hf-srpe@fas.harvard.edu with the subject line: SUMMER PROGRAM: RE-SEND REFERENCE INSTRUCTIONS
Include the following three items:
1. Your student application name
2. The name of the reference writer who needs the instructions sent
3. Confirmation of this reference's email address

Please be advised that many emails are being filtered out into spam or trash.  

Reference letters sent via attachment are not accepted. 

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The core of our funding is for undergraduate students who are enrolled in a 2 or 4 year colleges during and after the summer program.   Students on leave from their undergraduate program and students who have completed their associates degree (2 year program) and are going on to get a bachelor's degree (4 year program) are also encouraged to apply and will be considered as part of the general applicant pool. Students who have already obtained a bachelors degree, will obtain one by the time the summer program begins, or who are currently enrolled in a graduate program are welcome to apply but should be aware that we may not have funding for any such positions.

Parents

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May 24, 2021 - August 6, 2021

The program runs for 11 weeks beginning Monday, May 24, 2021 and ending at 5 pm on Friday, August 6, 2021. The annual (this year, online) Summer Student Symposium will be held on Thursday, August 5, 2021 to which family and friends are welcome to attend.

Printer-friendly version

Student compensation includes the following:

  • $9,350 stipend for the 11-week session, inclusive of support for living and home office expenses
  • If needed, Harvard Forest can provide a laptop, other necessary computer hardware, and/or a Wi-Fi hotspot, for the duration of the program
Printer-friendly version

Because the 2021 program is virtual, many of the health risks associated with working at a field station are not applicable. We recognize the stress and isolation of working virtually. We are committed to building community among the program participants. While we are not trained mental health counsellors, we are open to discussing stresses participants are facing and helping students connect to resources. 

There are health risks associated with lab and field research. Students working in the lab may be exposed to caustic chemicals and other toxic substances. Students working in the field often travel over uneven ground, and through areas with biting insects, falling trees, and thorny plants.

The most common health problems result from reactions to biting insects, including mosquitoes, wasps and bees, and ticks. The most common cause for medical treatment is when students exhibit symptoms of Lyme disease following a tick bite. We monitor such situations very closely to ensure that anyone showing symptoms of Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. For more information about Lyme disease, please see Centers for Disease Control  http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/  National Science Foundation (NSF) Discoveries - Lyme Disease: Ten things you always wanted to know about ticks...http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=131439&WT.mc_id=USNSF_1

Please know that we work hard to ensure the health and safety off all our staff and students. We spend a substantial portion of the program orientation in safety training. Finally, students are not allowed to do work with hazardous chemicals in the labs during off hours and solo field work is discouraged. 

Printer-friendly version

Harvard Forest does not provide general health insurance for summer student interns. All enrolled undergraduates should be covered by their own health insurance policy. Students injured during non-work time are responsible for the costs of any health care required. Harvard's Workers Compensation Policy may cover injuries sustained while working for the program; the final determination will be made by the insurance company, and a remote work situation makes this more complicated than usual.

Printer-friendly version

For our 2021 virtual program, the proctor will facilitate community-building and organize the education programs. The proctor is available to counsel students about problems, and ensures that students follow the Code of Conduct, 

Printer-friendly version

The summer program is a core part of the research and education mission of Harvard Forest. While every student, mentor, and project is different, we place high expectations on all the students and their mentors to ensure everyone has an excellent, albeit demanding, research experience. These expectations are stated explicitly for mentors and students and program staff seek to ensure all participants understand them and act within this spirit.
Students are expected to comply with the Code of Conduct, which they sign as part of their acceptance materials. This code clearly states that all illegal drug use is prohibited and only students who are of legal age to drink may to do so. The Code is taken quite seriously at the Harvard Forest and violation of it may lead to discipline or dismissal from the program. 

Referees

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Reference writers can submit letters only after the student has activated their application. Reference writers will recieve an email with log-in credentials to submit letters on-line.

Please note that references are due by the Friday February 19th, 9:00am EST. with no exceptions. 

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Please confirm that your student has actually entered you in as a reference. You should receive an email from hfweb@fas.harvard.edu with the instructions on how to upload a reference. Also, confirm which email address your student used to identify you, as this is how we keep track of referees. If you are replacing another faculty member who was listed as the original letter writer, the student needs to change the information in their application before you can submit your letter. 

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No. We only accept uploaded references. 

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We do not accept reference letters via email, they must be uploaded into our on-line application to be associated with the student's application. 

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We accept PDF, Office documents or Plain (ASCII) Text. 

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Contact hfweb@fas.harvard.edu. Please put in the subject line: SUMMER PROGRAM REFEREE PROBLEM 

Include the name of your student in the body of the email along with any other relevant technical issue with the upload process.

Faculty & Advisors

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Visit our webpage for information on the Harvard Forest Summer Research Program. 

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Click here to learn about current research at the Harvard Forest. 

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Contact the Harvard Forest Summer Research Program in Ecology Co-Directors (Audrey Barker-Plotkin and Dr. Sydne Record)

Harvard Forest, Harvard University

324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366

978-756-6168 (office);hf-srpe@fas.harvard.edu

Bullard Fellowship

Applying

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If you are changing referee information, you must email hf-srpe@fas.harvard.edu with the subject line: SUMMER PROGRAM REFEREE CHANGE. 

The email should include:
1. Your student application name
2. The name of the reference you want to have UNLOCKED

The reference will be unlocked and you will receive confirmation. 
Please note: This change will UNSUBMIT your application if it was already submitted. Please edit with the proper referee information and remember to SUBMIT. 

Referees

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If you are changing referee information, you must email hf-srpe@fas.harvard.edu with the subject line: SUMMER PROGRAM REFEREE CHANGE. 

The email should include:
1. Your student application name
2. The name of the reference you want to have UNLOCKED

The reference will be unlocked and you will receive confirmation. 
Please note: This change will UNSUBMIT your application if it was already submitted. Please edit with the proper referee information and remember to SUBMIT.