This REU Site award to Northwestern University, located in Evanston, IL, will support the training of 8 students for 10 weeks during the summers of 2018- 2020. The focus of the program is to provide mentored research experiences to train the next generation of students in the field of Synthetic Biology. Faculty from the Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Molecular Biosciences, Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics will serve as mentors. After a one-week bootcamp to teach all necessary basic lab techniques, the participating students will carry out an independent synthetic biology research project. Concurrently, students will participate in a carefully designed curriculum to develop skills necessary for success in their future STEM careers, including communication, networking, ethics, and entrepreneurship. This information will be conveyed via seminars, workshops, informal weekly lunches with faculty, social events with other university researchers, and field trips to area companies and museums. At the end of the program, students will present posters describing their projects and results at a research symposium. A stipend will be provided, along with housing, meals, and a travel allowance. Applications will be accepted online, and reviewed by a faculty committee to select participants. Students from underrepresented or underpriviledged groups are encouraged to apply.

It is anticipated that a total of 24 students, primarily from schools with limited research opportunities, will be trained in the program. Students will learn how research is conducted, and many will present the results of their work at scientific conferences. Continued mentoring will be available to those wishing to pursue additional activities in synthetic biology or related science research.

A common web-based assessment tool used by all REU Site programs funded by the Division of Biological Infrastructure will be used to determine the effectiveness of the training program. Additional standard and tailored assessments will be used to refine activities continuously to meet program goals. Students will be tracked after the program in order to determine their career paths. Students will be asked to respond to an automatic email sent via the NSF reporting system. More information about the program is available by visiting , or by contacting the PI (Dr. Tullman-Ercek at or the co-PI (Dr. Jewett at This award is supported by the Directorate for Biological Sciences (DBI and MCB Divisions) and the Directorate for Engineering (EEC Division).

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Sally O'Connor
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Northwestern University at Chicago
United States
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