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NSF REU Site Program

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(Updated 12/17/14)

National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site


Sensory Ecology – the study of how animals acquire and respond to information about their environment


The UC Department of Biological Sciences has a focus of faculty research in Sensory Biology, Behavior and Evolution (SBBE). Our program is focused on research at the intersection of neurobiology, behavior, ecology and evolution, and is directed at understanding how animals sense and respond to their environment at functional and evolutionary levels, including:

  • Genomics and development of sensory systems
  • Neural mechanisms of sensory system function
  • Neuromuscular coordination and control of locomotion
  • Genetic mechanisms of neuroendocrine function, development and behavior
  • Sensory perception and behavioral influences of the physical environment
  • Neuroethology
  • Animal communication
  • Behavioral ecology of animal movement and dispersal
  • Sexual selection and evolution

The REU Site will emphasize interdisciplinary training with a structured program of multi-level mentoring, introducing undergraduates to team-oriented research built around integration of sensory biology, behavior, ecology and evolution. Ten students will join active lab groups (click here for list of labs and research projects) for the summer and conduct cutting edge research over a broad spectrum of topics in sensory ecology. An educational program will develop student research and professional skills and prepare them for graduate school or careers. Presentation of research results will be emphasized in a mini-symposium, and opportunities for publication may be possible. 

vision

The program:

  • 10 weeks in summer (6/1/15 - 8/7/15)
  • Students receive a summer stipend ($5,000) plus dorm and meal expenses
  • Students work in labs, interact w/ faculty mentors, post-docs and grad students
  • Weekly group seminars and meetings for students over lunch (paid by program).
    • Research presentations, progress updates, readings with discussions
    • Career development, responsible research conduct, panel discussions (with grad students)
    • Demonstration of lab techniques by individual labs
  • Social events (e.g., trips to Zoo, Newport Aquarium, Reds baseball)
  • Concluding student research “mini-symposium” presentation session


Students will have both individual and group experiences, through mentored research projects, active learning of research techniques in a group setting and group social activities.

The application deadline is 2/15/15. Click here for the current application form. Student applicants will be selected based on multiple criteria provided in the application materials. Applications for the REU program will be screened by a committee to select individuals whose interests are well-matched with faculty in the program. Emphasis will be placed on faculty recommendations and student statements, along with academic performance is clearly necessary, and other indicators of future research success.