Summer opportunities for undergraduate students at SFSU

3 Jan

REU programs (paid research for undergrads during the summer)

The National Science Foundation funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU Sites program. An REU Site consists of a group of around ten undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. The programs usually provide travel money, room and board and some stipend. There is also an REU program at SFSU, but most spots in this program go to non-SFSU students.

The deadlines for these summer programs are early February to early March.

MARC program / SEO office fellowships (paid research for undergrads during the summer and academic year)

Science students at SFSU can apply for fellowships through the SEO office. The MARC fellowship description says:
“Purpose: To prepare students from underrepresented groups (African-American, Native American, Hispanic American and Pacific Islanders) and students with disabilities for biomedical careers by providing academic support and a stimulating research experience. The goal of the program is to prepare each participant for entrance into a competitive graduate program and successful completion of a PhD in the biomedical or physical sciences.”

A MARC fellowship provides mentoring, research experience and financial support ($12,588/year and partial tuition for the junior and senior years). If you are unsure if you are eligible, consider applying nevertheless!

Deadline: March 16th!

PINC summer program (not paid, coding and research)

The exact form of the 2018 PINC summer program is not yet clear. In 2017, 15 undergraduate students were part of the program, and together with 4 graduate students, they learned coding skills in R or python, they read research papers and they performed a small research project. The students spent 8 hours per week on the program for 9 weeks. In terms of coding skills, some students were absolute beginners, whereas others had taken a CS class before.

We will open op the program for applications in April of 2018.

Research (mostly volunteer, possibly for credit / paid)

If you are interested in getting research experience during the summer, you can see if any professor is looking for students to join their lab in the summer. Start with the professors you know or whose research you are particularly interested in. Some professors post opportunities on posters in the hallways of Hensill Hall, but many don’t and so you will just need to go and ask – by email or in person during their office hours. Almost everyone on this list does research and gets help from volunteer undergraduate students. Some students get credit for doing research (fairly common) and some get paid (not so common, but not impossible).

In the biology newsletter that you get by email every week, there are often opportunities posted, for example from labs at UCSF. If you are looking for a volunteer or paid research opportunity, make sure you read the newsletter!

Letters of recommendation

Many times you need a letter of recommendation from a professor when you apply for a fellowship or other opportunity. For us, professors, writing such letters is part of our job. Some professors only write letters for students they know well (for example, because they come to office hours often or because they volunteer in the lab of the professor). Other professors are happy to write a letter for anyone who has taken their class (that’s me!). Either way, don’t be afraid to ask! The worst that can happen is that they say no.
If a professor has agreed to write a letter for you, make sure that you email them all the materials that you also use to apply to the opportunity (e.g., unofficial transcript, essay, resume). Having those materials at hand makes it much easier for us to write a good letter! Plus, if you send them early enough, you may get some useful feedback. Once a professor has written one letter for you, they are usually happy to send that letter to as many programs as necessary. So if you want to apply to 20 different REU sites, go ahead! Our letter can go to all of these places, and really, we don’t mind. It’s our job.


Students in the 2017 PINC summer program.

9 Responses to “Summer opportunities for undergraduate students at SFSU”

  1. pleunipennings January 9, 2018 at 9:59 am #

    Math Bio in Knoxville, Tennessee (paid):

    The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
    is now taking applications for its Summer Research Experiences for
    Undergraduates (SRE). The program will be held May 29 – July 20, 2018, on
    the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, campus. Undergraduate majors in
    biology, math, and related fields will live on campus and work in teams
    with UT professors, NIMBioS researchers, and collaborators to conduct
    research at the interface of mathematics and biology. This year’s research
    projects are ecological niche modeling and risk assessment of thousand
    cankers disease; mosquito population response to environmental variables;
    modeling the management of feral cats with economic impacts; the spatial
    interactions between hunting and plant gathering in tropical forests; and
    using phylogenetics to understand cancer tumor evolution.

    Participants receive free university apartment-style housing, a stipend of
    $4100, and up to $650 of support for travel to/from Knoxville.

    Application Deadline: February 14, 2018

    For more information, visit

    For more information about NIMBioS, visit or contact
    Greg Wiggins, NIMBioS Education and Outreach Coordinator, at or Suzanne Lenhart, NIMBioS Associate Director of
    Education and Outreach,

  2. pleunipennings January 9, 2018 at 10:32 am #

    AMGEN scholars program at several US universities.


    At Berkeley, computational biology, consider applying to work with Noah Whiteman.

    At Stanford Biology, consider applying to work with Kristy Red-Horse or Dmitri Petrov.

    At UCSF, consider applying in Biological and Medical Informatics to work with Ryan Hernandez.

    At Washington U in St Louis, consider applying to work with Joan Strassman.

  3. pleunipennings January 9, 2018 at 10:34 am #

    NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Plant Ecology and

    We anticipate having funding for one or two enthusiastic students
    interested in enhancing their research skills and experience in plant
    ecology, genomics, and bioinformatics in the Cruzan lab at Portland
    State University in Portland, Oregon.

    Successful applicants will become part of a research team working on
    dispersal and gene flow in upland prairie plants in Oregon and
    Washington under pressure from climate change. Dispersal is critical for
    colonization, gene flow, and range expansion ¡V it is one of the most
    important but least understood aspects of the ecology of plants. Our
    research utilizes genomic techniques to detect the effects of dispersal
    over different spatial scales. This is an integrative research program
    that includes field work, wet lab preparation of genomic DNA for
    next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics processing of sequence data,
    and analysis of patterns of gene flow using GIS and landscape genetic
    methods. Students will be exposed to a wide range of methods and are
    expected to develop an independent research project within the scope of
    the larger research program. More information on our research is posted
    on our lab web site:

    Students will be fully supported for 10 to 12 weeks during the summer of
    2018. Funding is provided from an REU supplement to our National Science
    Foundation Macrosystems Biology grant. Housing will be provided on
    campus along with a daily allowance for food and a $500 weekly stipend.
    The start of the REU is negotiable with optimal start dates between May
    1 and June 17.

    To apply please email us an updated copy of your CV (including GPA) and
    a short (one page) statement of your research interests and experience,
    as well as goals for your education and career. Applicants should
    arrange to have one or two faculty members provide a letter of
    recommendation (email is fine). Students with experience in computer
    programming and/or bioinformatics are encouraged to apply. Application
    deadline is 29 February 2016. Feel free to email us with questions.

    Pam Thompson, Postdoctoral Research Associate:

    Mitch Cruzan, Principle Investigator:

  4. pleunipennings January 14, 2018 at 9:23 pm #

    Ohio State University: Calling the Next Generation of Evolutionary Biologists!

    We seek rising sophomores and rising juniors majoring in the life sciences for a new Research Experience for Undergraduates program in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology of The Ohio State University. Participants in this program will address questions about evolutionary relationships among plants, microbes, or animals using leading-edge molecular biology and informatics techniques for massively parallel DNA sequence data. In addition to skills in research project design, data collection, and analysis, this program will focus on professional development of the students, including meetings with biologists in industry, natural resource management, and the Columbus Zoo.

    The program begins May 22, 2018 and runs through July 28, 2018. Participant travel to and from Columbus will be paid through this program. All participants will receive a weekly stipend of $525 and will have meals and on-campus housing provided. Details about specific projects will be available at the time of application. If you have general questions about the program, please email Dr. Marymegan Daly.

  5. pleunipennings January 23, 2018 at 1:01 pm #


    The Models in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics Research Experiences
    for Undergraduates (REU) Program at The University of Kansas is now
    accepting applications. The NSF-funded program will occur over ten
    weeks this summer (May 20-July 26, 2018) in the Department of Ecology
    and Evolutionary Biology. In the program, students will participate
    in mentored, independent research. Students will receive a stipend,
    room and board, and course credit.

    Projects available include, but are not limited to, theoretical disease
    ecology, biogeography of social spiders, butterfly genomics, lizard
    speciation, soil ecology, prairie communities, systematics of tapeworms,
    and insect behavior.

    Applications are encouraged from biology majors and mathematics (or
    computer science) majors with an interest in biology. Students must be
    in good academic standing and enrolled at a community college, college
    or university. Members of underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged
    to apply. Students must be United States citizens or permanent residents.
    More information, including available projects, and an online application
    form are available at and inquiries should be
    directed to The application deadline is February 15,
    2018, but late applications will be considered.

    Drs. Jennifer Gleason and Deborah Smith, Program directors
    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    University of Kansas

  6. pleunipennings January 23, 2018 at 10:56 pm #

    NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in the Evolution of
    Biodiversity across the Tree of Life

    We are looking for 8 undergraduate students to participate in hands-on
    research in biodiversity science and receive training in cutting-edge
    techniques and analysis in evolutionary biology for 10 weeks during the
    summers of 2016-2018.

    Students will learn research techniques that include DNA sequencing and
    computational analysis of genetic and genomic data, morphological
    measurements and phylogenetic analysis, and microbiology and
    next-generation microbial sequencing. Scientific projects to be conducted
    by the students include the morphological and ontogenetic variation in an
    African rodent, population genetics and blood meal identification of a
    parasitic catfish, coevolution of feeding morphology and taste receptors in
    fish-eating birds, Assessing genomic information to identify lichens,
    testing the causes of organismal diversification in the most species-rich
    lichenized fungi, wing morphology and dispersal ability in New Zealand
    water beetles, geographic variation in a widespread mullet fish, and
    diversity, evolutionary history and specificity of symbiotic microbes
    associated with turtle ants.

    In addition students will receive career mentoring in a diversity of STEM
    fields, gain experiences in public outreach and science communication,
    receive training in ethics/responsible conduct of research, and participate
    in a diversity workshop to help overcome bias in science.

    Students will be provided a stipend, dormitory housing, and assistance with
    travel costs.

    Participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and an
    undergraduate during the entire period. We especially encourage students
    from groups traditionally underrepresented in science to apply.

    To apply, please send complete the online application:

    Applications close April 22, 2016.

    Please direct any questions to Emily Hallock (

  7. pleunipennings January 25, 2018 at 10:17 am #

    New York City Urban Ecology

    Brooklyn College and the City University of New York are now accepting applications for a new Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in Urban Ecology and the Environment that will run this summer between June 5 and August 17. BUEE offers an integrative summer research program aimed at developing early-career undergraduate students into mature and thoughtful environmental scientists. Authentic research experiences on human-coupled natural systems are complemented by an academic program aimed at developing practical experience in research design, scientific communication and community outreach. BUEE leverages the unique academic and research resources at Brooklyn, including a state-of-the-art Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center, and our recently-established Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, focused on urban sustainability and resilience. Students are p
    rovided with a competitive stipend, housing and food allowances, and relocation credit for travel from outside the region. Applications from STEM-underrepresented students are especially encouraged.

    More information on the program, including potential projects, can be found at, or by contacting the program PI at Applications should be submitted online before April 1.

    Please spread the word, and share the program with any students interested in learning more about ecological and environmental issues in an urban setting.


    Tony Wilson, BUEE PI

  8. pleunipennings January 25, 2018 at 10:20 am #

    Environmental Science and Policy in the Nationขs Capitol

    An NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program at Georgetown

    Summer 2018

    Georgetown Universityขs REU Site program in Environmental Science
    and Policy in the Nationขs Capital is seeking talented and engaged
    undergraduate students. This ten-week program will bring a cohort of ten
    students to Washington, D.C. to conduct hands-on research in environmental
    science at Georgetown University and to take part in a mini-curriculum
    that builds research skills and also explores the intersections of science
    and public policy. Participating research mentors have expertise in
    fields including behavior, ecology, conservation biology, evolutionary
    ecology, evolutionary genetics, mathematical modeling of biological
    systems, statistics for environmental and biological studies, and earth
    science. See mentor research descriptions on the program web site.
    Interested students are encouraged to contact potential mentors directly.

    The 2018 program will run from June 04 – August 12. Students will be
    housed on the Georgetown campus and will receive a $5500 stipend plus
    an allowance for travel and food. To be eligible, applicants must
    be U. S. citizens or permanent residents, a full-time student as of
    August, 2018, and available to participate full-time during the program.
    We are striving for a diverse group, so students from groups typically
    underrepresented in STEM fields are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Review of applications will begin on February 19, 2018 and will be
    accepted on a continuing until all positions are filled.

    For more information on the program and to apply, visit:

    For inquiries, contact the principal investigator Dr. Matthew B. Hamilton
    (, or co-principal investigator Dr. Martha
    Weiss (

  9. pleunipennings February 4, 2018 at 10:02 pm #

    Dear CSU Science and Science-Engineering Deans,
    We are asking for your help advertising the CSU COAST Summer 2018 Internship program: A flyer (pdf) is attached for electronic distribution/physical posting. If you have seen this request already through the COAST email list or an email directly to engineering deans, I apologize for the repetition.
    These are PAID internships that provide excellent workforce development and professional experience opportunities. This summer, we’ll need students with backgrounds in biology/ecology, policy and resource management, engineering and computer science. Over 75% of our interns to date have been undergraduate students, many of whom have been hired on by their internship hosts following their summer experiences.

    The deadline for applications is Monday, March 5, 2018, 5:00 pm PST. We will host a webinar on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, from 12:00-1:00 pm where students can hear more about these internship opportunities, how to construct a competitive application and ask questions. Interested students can RSVP for the webinar at (Webinar info attached as graphic)

    Anything you can do to help ensure as many students as possible on your campus know about this opportunity would be greatly appreciated!

    Please let me know if you have any questions and thank you in advance,

    Krista Kamer

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