An award was made to the Marine Biological Laboratory to provide research training for 10 weeks for 10 students, for the summers of 2010-2012. This award is also supported by the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) in the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO). The Biological Discovery in Woods Hole program will focus on the molecular and cellular processes that give rise to and regulate complex physiological systems that mediate organismal behavior. The program's goal is to recruit highly motivated students, especially from underrepresented groups and/or schools with limited research opportunities, and to immerse them in research programs under the guidance of mentors selected from visiting summer investigators or year-round scientists at the MBL. Interested students should access the program's website, and submit applications electronically, where they will be reviewed by the admissions committee, with notification in early spring. Each student will be assigned an individual mentor based on mutual interest. We expect the students to be fully integrated into the laboratory and actively participate in the mentor's research program. To augment the research experience, students will participate in field trips, and attend weekly course meetings, seminars and/or luncheons that will explore a wide range of topics to encourage pursuit of a career in biological sciences. The students will also attend lectures on ethics and responsible conduct in research offered by the long running MBL course, Summer Program in Neuroscience Ethics and Survival. The program will culminate in an undergraduate research symposium and poster presentation at the MBL. In conjunction with the MBL education department, we will use the "Kirkpatrick Model" for course assessment. Student experiences will be evaluated at the end of each summer and students will be queried each year after they graduate from the program, to track their career. PI Allen F. Mensinger, University of Minnesota Duluth;

Project Report

The Biological Discovery in Woods Hole (BDWH) Program is an intensive, ten-week summer research experience for undergraduates at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), in Woods Hole, MA. The marine setting and unique intellectual blend of investigators at the MBL provided a diverse undergraduate research experience. The goals were to recruit highly motivated students, especially from under-represented groups and/or schools with limited research programs, and immerse them in independent research programs under the guidance of mentors that were fully committed to enhancing undergraduate research experience. The highly stimulating environment was permeated with enthusiasm and excitement of discovery. Each mentor impressed upon their student that the project was part of a larger, ongoing, research program and not just a course exercise. The context and rationale of each project was made clear to each student and how the student’s work contributed to long-range goals of the investigator’s laboratory. For ten weeks the students lived, breathed and worked as researchers. To augment the research experience, students participated in weekly course meetings, field trips, seminars and luncheons that explored a wide range of topics (graduate school application to ethics) to encourage the students to prepare and pursue a career in biological sciences. The program also served as the undergraduate nexus of the MBL community. All undergraduates at MBL were invited and encouraged to participate in all aspects of our program. Student interest in the REU program was high with over 400 applications received in 2013. A total of 37 students participated in the four summers of the program with the cohort consisting of a high percentage of women (67%), underrepresented groups in science (60%), and students from institutions with limited research opportunities (70%). The students’ undergraduate research symposium was broadly disseminated via live streaming to allow the general public or students/faculty at their home institutions to view the presentations. Program alumni have reported high success in graduate school admission with 14 currently enrolled in masters or PhD programs. Several students have deferred graduate school for community service (i.e. Peace Corps) or are employed as laboratory technicians. A local middle school teacher received a RET grant, and incorporated the research into her curricula and provided the REU students an overview of K-12 education. Several students were successful in obtaining travel grants to present their results at national scientific meetings including SACNAS and the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology. Four peer reviewed publications have been produced that have included five undergraduate co-authors.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
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Charles Sullivan
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Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole
United States
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