This REU Site program in Prokaryotic Biology will introduce undergraduates to exciting areas of microbial research and increase their awareness of careers in microbiology. The program is an intensive, 9-week, hands-on summer laboratory research program in the Microbiology Department of the University of Georgia-Athens. Ten participants will be recruited each year, primarily from undergraduate institutions with limited research opportunities. Students from groups that are underrepresented in the scientific community, including deaf and hard-of-hearing students, are encouraged to participate in the program. REU participants will conduct independent projects under the supervision of faculty mentors in a variety of research topics addressing the functions of prokaryotic organisms (Bacteria and Archaea). State-of-the-art techniques will be used in interdisciplinary approaches that combine knowledge from the fields of Genetics, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Physiology, Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology and Ecology. Research projects will address broad questions ranging from the role of prokaryotes in environmental and geochemical processes to their role in human health. Research experiences will help the participants understand more about graduate education and careers in microbiology. REU participants will have informal meetings with faculty, attend scientific seminars, participate in discussions of ethical issues in science, and join the regular research meetings of their lab groups. Students will present their research results at the end of the summer in a poster session. To learn more about the REU program and find out how to apply, students are encouraged to visit or contact Dr. Eric Stabb at or 706-542-2414.

Project Report

The training and development of young scientists is imperative in order for the United States to remain competitive globally in technology and science. The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site program in Prokaryotic Biology at the University of Georgia (UGA) has provided undergraduate scientists with opportunities to conduct hands-on research in microbiology, introducing them to the excitement of biological research and helping them to develop the cognitive skills necessary for a career in science. This program provided housing and support so that participants could dedicate themselves full-time to an intensive 9-week summer research program. The participating student-scientists were paired with faculty based on their intellectual interests and conducted independent research projects under the supervision of these faculty mentors, with additional supervision provided by postdoctoral scientists and graduate students. The program encompassed a variety of research topics addressing the diverse functions of microorganisms, particularly bacteria and archaea. Student projects in this program employed modern techniques and interdisciplinary approaches that included the fields of Genetics, Biochemistry, Physiology, Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, Ecology, Genomics and Bioinformatics. The independent REU student projects integrated with the ongoing research in faculty mentors’ laboratories to tackle broad questions relevant to society, ranging from the roles of microbes in environmental and biogeochemical processes to their roles (both positive and negative) in plant and animal health. Participants also were exposed to a number of career-enriching activities. They learned how to communicate scientific results effectively in a poster format, presented their research results at the end of the program, and provided one another with peer critiques of their presentations. Participants further learned about cutting-edge research in microbiology through informal lunch meetings with faculty members, by attending scientific seminars, and in weekly research meetings of their lab groups. Speakers from diverse backgrounds, including different academic and government institutions, broadened the participants understanding of potential careers in science. Finally, REU students participated in an ethics-in-science workshop using case studies to provide a framework for identifying and resolving ethical issues as they arise in scientific situations. From 2002-2010, more than one hundred students from across the United States and Puerto Rico participated in this REU site program, including thirty-five participants in the last three-year funding cycle. Participant numbers represent approximately 10% of the total applicants. Participants represented a diverse array of social and ethnic backgrounds, but were uniformly strong academically with nascent interests in biology and microbiology. Most participants came from institutions with limited research infrastructure, making this experience a unique opportunity for them. In accordance with NSF regulations, all participants have been citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or its possessions. Exit surveys indicated that participants found this REU experience to be useful both in learning particular scientific skills and in helping them determine career routes. Most REU participants have continued their scientific development in graduate or professional schools, including thirteen former participants who returned to UGA for graduate studies so far.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
Application #
Program Officer
Sally E. O'Connor
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Georgia
United States
Zip Code