PULLMAN, Wash. — Each summer, eight undergraduate students from throughout the nation will have the opportunity to study plant biology in cutting-edge labs at Washington State University. Horticultural genomics Professor Amit Dhingra, the leader of a new Research Experience for Undergraduates site funded by the National Science Foundation, said the program is accepting applications from students wanting real-world experience in plant genomics and biotechnology. Undergraduates accepted into the REU program will receive a $5,000 stipend for the 10-week session, free housing, and travel assistance to and from Pullman, Wash. To apply, or for more information, visit http://bit.ly/wsureu.
A team of eight faculty members will mentor students in genomics, biotechnology, plant breeding, plant pathology and physiology, and computational biology. Students accepted into the program will participate in ongoing projects while gaining research experience using state-of-the-art tools. Students will take workshops in science writing and ethics; career development and team work; data collection, analysis and visualization; critical thinking; intellectual property and patents; and presentation skills.
“We’ve put together a world-class team of mentors who will work with students one on one and in small groups over the 10-week summer research experience,” Dhingra said. With biotechnology and plant genomics as the main focal points of the summer workshop, students will work with scientists who, combined, have trained more than 200 undergraduates as pioneers in research.
“We encourage students interested in everything from computer science to ecology to apply for this experience,” Dhingra said. “More than ever, the world needs great scientists who can think critically and creatively to tackle global problems. We’re in a world with a growing population, a changing climate, and some severe environmental issues to address, and we need young people who are motivated and passionate to step up and help us solve these problems.
“Over the last few years, our capacity to access genetic information has seen an unprecedented growth. This has given birth to the science of genomics, which endeavors to establish a relationship between a plant’s traits (for instance, resistance to a disease) and the underlying genes. By exploring the relationship between traits and genes, we will be able to improve crops using biotechnology or devise other solutions so that food plants can thrive in ever-changing environmental conditions,” Dhingra said.