The Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana is offering an 8-week summer REU program for eight undergraduate students, including incoming freshmen. Students with an interest in environmental biology will be recruited. Students will be matched with a mentor based on their interests and will conduct an original hands-on research in one of the areas offered in the program, which include microbial ecology, plant ecology, and ecological and evolutionary genetics. Student projects will be designed to help REU participants develop their research skills and independence, as well as enhance their knowledge in a specific area of environmental biology. Students will gain experience in many aspects of scientific research, including formulating questions and hypotheses; designing experiments; analyzing data; writing a paper, and communicating research results. Students will also participate in workshops to develop additional research-related skills, to learn about career options in environmental biology, and to learn how research findings are applied in areas such as ecology of disease, habitat restoration, wildlife management, forest management, and invasive species management. Students will also have the opportunity to share their experience in group meetings and to develop a sense of scientific community. Applications from graduating high school seniors and from Native American students are encouraged. More information is available at or by contacting Bill Holben at, or (406) 243-6163.

Project Report

(UM) is an REU Site award with goals geared towards increasing the number of socioeconomically disadvantaged and underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduate students participating in hands-on research experiences. Eight to ten students reside at UM each summer conducting research with nationally and internationally recognized faculty mentors in a broad array of study areas including microbial, plant, and wildlife ecology. IM-SURE purposefully targets a recruitment audience of incoming freshmen, rising sophomores, and rising juniors with no, or very limited, prior research experience to provide initial exposure to a real academic research environment. These students participate directly in laboratory and/or field research in their mentor’s group, and each has ownership of their own individual project rather than serving as lab or field aides for others’ research. Thus, all IM-SURE participants have conducted independent, meaningful research under the guidance of dedicated faculty mentors. Each student showcases their research at the end of each summer through presentation of a research poster at the OREOS Undergraduate Research Symposium (OURS) held each August on The University of Montana Mountain campus. Here participants explain and detail their research outcomes to a diverse audience of UM faculty, staff, graduate students, administrators and the general public. During the first three years of the IM-SURE program, we hosted a total of 24 students at UM. Of these, 17 (74%) were from underserved groups, and 18 (75%) were women. These statistics are significant to our primary objective of enhancing the number of underrepresented undergraduates and achieving gender equality throughout the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical (STEM) disciplines. In terms of post-IM-SURE plans and accomplishments, as of Fall 2012, twelve IM-SURE alumni have completed their undergraduate degrees with an additional six still enrolled with graduation planned within the next calendar year. Four alumni intend to pursue Ph.D.s., two more are aiming at M.D./Ph.D. or D.V.M./Ph.D. combination programs, and one is pursuing her D.V.M. Eight other alumni intend to pursue Master's degrees, while two are currently enrolled in Master's programs. Another participant is currently enrolled in a post-baccalaureate certificate program. In addition, twelve alumni (50%) conducted additional undergraduate research after the completion of their IM-SURE experience. One IM-SURE alumnus is co-author on a published peer-reviewed paper, while two more are co-authors on manuscripts in preparation or under review. One participant was co- author on two conference proceedings, while five others have been acknowledged for their contributions to journal articles, posters, in a Ph.D. dissertation, and in a faculty seminar presentation.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
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Sally E. O'Connor
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University of Montana
United States
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