Operation Wallacea is a network of academics from European and North American universities, who design and implement university biodiversity and conservation management research programmes abroad. Research is supported by students who join the programme to strengthen their CV or résumé, gain course credit, or collect data for a dissertation or thesis.
About 25% of students on Operation Wallacea expeditions use their time on site to gather data for their undergraduate or Masters level dissertations or theses. Doing it this way means that you still have the benefit of conservation volunteering overseas and working in some of these remote environments but can also use your time over the summer to collect data for your degree dissertation or senior thesis.
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The 100+ topics have been separated into subject areas (e.g. mammal ecology topics, genetics topics, etc.) and the topics within each subject area are often drawn from a range of countries. Each topic describes an area of study from which students can develop their own research questions. Thus for any particular topic a small number of students can complete theses on different research questions. Some of the topic areas involve data collected as part of the general monitoring effort. In such cases, the data-collection sites and methods are fixed, and the range of possible research questions is therefore limited. However, it also means that the likely sample size of the data collected is large, allowing a variety of research questions to be addressed using the data. Other subject areas, which are not part of the general monitoring effort, allow a much larger range of possible research questions and flexibility in the planning of the work. The main constraints for these projects are logistical (vehicles, safety guard cover, dive launches, etc.).