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NSF funds undergraduate DNA and biodiversity research

REU undergraduates
REU undergraduates

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has received a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Through this award, undergraduates will use high-throughput DNA sequencing, phylogenetic methods and bioinformatics to study microbiomes and the identities and origins of Hawaiʻi’s endemic, native and introduced organisms. Mentorship will be provided by faculty from the UH Mānoa departments of botanybiology and microbiology, the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute and Kapiʻolani Community College.

A total of 30 students, primarily from schools with limited research opportunities or those with limited higher-level biology background or no research experience, will be trained in ten-week summer sessions in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

This award provides support to students who must relocate to participate. The experience will be enhanced by weekly workshops to explore scientific communication, responsible conduct of research and graduate school and culminate in a scientific poster presentation by each participant.

Microbiology Associate Professor Stuart Donachie, the project’s principal investigator, said the participants’ experiences “will lead to discoveries, to publications, and to further opportunities for them. The REU program provides for scientific experiences that really can change a life, such as by sparking that interest in a particular theme, or group of organisms that someone will want to work on for years to come.”

“By providing research opportunities to students who may otherwise not have access,” added biology Assistant Specialist and Co-Principal Investigator Stephanie Kraft-Terry, “we hope to inspire the next generation of scientists. Financial support from the NSF will allow participants to focus on research during their ten-week REU experience, providing an immersive experience that allows them to truly integrate into the laboratory.”

Read more about the program.