30 January 2009

January seminar: Robyn Lints

Dr. Robyn Lints
Dr. Robyn Lints from Texas A&M University was the REU program's most recent visiting mentor. She spoke to students and faculty on her work with the worm species C. elegans. One of the unusual and not very well-known features of this species is that there are hermaphrodites -- which can fertilize themselves -- and males, but no females. Dr. Lints is doing research on the neurobiology of how the males recognize and mate with hermaphrodites (who frequently do not particularly want to be mated, from all appearances). She had some truly amazing transgenic techniques she was using to investigate these questions.

Dr. Lints met with faculty and REU students individually, and also spoke briefly in the research ethics class that REU students are taking about some of the ethical issues she had cause to think about in her professional career.

We thank Dr. Lints, and hope she enjoyed her visit despite having over 8 hours of delayed flights (shudder!).

L to R: (back) Ammie Ortiz, Jess Valdez, Stephanie Castellanos, Stephanie Jimenez, Robyn Lints, (front) Ashley Longoria, Amery Yang

28 January 2009

Meet and greet

REU student Stephanie Jimenez with UTPA distinguished speaker Dr. Robert Ballard.

27 January 2009

UT System LSAMP summer research academy

The institution: Various University of Texas system universities.

The program: Students will conduct research, meet graduate students in the program of their choice, attend research group or lab meetings, and participate in special meetings designed to help with future plans for graduate school. Opportunities will be provided for visiting with other scholars and learning about the graduate school application process through videoconferencing.

  • $3,000 stipend

  • Up to $500 travel funds

  • About 10 weeks of on-campus housing

  • All expenses paid invitation to annual UT System Student Research Conference in September 2009 in Austin, Texas


  • Full-time student with a major in science, engineering, or mathematics

  • Completed 30 semester credit hours

  • Minimum 2.8 GPA

  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.

Application deadline: 15 February 2009

More information: http://research.utep.edu/lsamp

Student profile: Stephanie Jimenez

What is your project about?

I am currently working with a new crayfish (Marmorkrebs) that is completely parthogenetic. Because this animal was only recently discovered (mid 1990s), there is much to learned. This means that my projects are varied and include some genetic experiments and several different types of behavioral experiments. In the future we hope to begin work on some ecology and neural anatomy experiments.

What have you learned or enjoyed so far?

So far the best part of REU for me has been the kind of one on one relationships I am building. Not only am I working more closely with the faculty but I have been able to build friendships with the other students in the program. I have also had the opportunity to meet other scientists (outside the valley) that I would have never met. All of this has helped me exercise my people skills which I know will be vital as I continue my career.

What are you looking forward to?

In the short term, I am most looking forward to giving a talk at the Texas Academy of Science conference. Although I have done a poster presentation at Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Boston (with REU) I think that this talk will give me some much needed practice with public speaking.

In the long term, I think I am most looking forward to entering graduate school. This next step for me is going to be a journey and challenge that I have spent a lot of time and effort preparing for.

20 January 2009

First spring 2009 seminar: Mate recognition

Dr. Robyn Lints of Texas A&M University will be giving her seminar, "Mate recognition behavior in the nematode worm C. elegans: Knowing a good thing when you find it" in SCIE 2.108, at noon, Thursday, 29 January 2009.

More information about Dr. Lints and her research is at: http://www.bio.tamu.edu/facmenu/faculty/LintsR.htm

15 January 2009

National Institutes of Health STEP-UP

The institution: Varies.

The program:

  • The research experience is provided nationally by experienced investigators in their laboratories. Students are matched with a research mentor at their choice of a research institution when possible

  • 8 to 10 consecutive weeks during the summer

  • $4000 student allowance and housing allotment

  • Travel expenses to the Annual Undergraduate Research Training Symposium in May and the Annual Undergraduate Scientific Session and Research Presentations in August at the NIH

  • Limited housing is available under special circumstances

Deadline: 15 February 2009

More information: http://stepup.niddk.nih.gov

NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program

The institution: Varies.

The program:

  • 10–15 week research experience at a participating NASA Center under the supervision of a NASA technical mentor.

  • $6,000 stipend

  • Round-trip airfare or ground transportation allowance to and from the NASA Host Center.

  • A location allowance may be provided for students at specific high cost NASA Centers.


  • U.S. citizenship.

  • Classified as a sophomore, junior or senior before the expected commencement of the internship session.

  • Major or demonstrated coursework concentration in engineering, mathematics, computer science, or physical/life sciences.

  • Demonstrated strong interest/commitment to one of the above career fields or disciplines (e.g., science/math/engineering fairs, clubs, or awards; tutoring/mentoring; internships or other related experience).

  • 3.0 grade point average or better.

Application deadline: 23 January 2009

More information: http://www.epo.usra.edu/usrp/

13 January 2009

Robyn with a Y and Robin with an I

The REU program is pleased to announce our next two visiting mentors. Both speakers will be giving departmental seminars at noon in SCIE 2.108.

29 January 2009

Later this month, we will be hosting Robyn Lints from Texas A&M University. When I visited A&M, she showed me some very cool stuff on C. elegans.

More information about Dr. Lints and her research is at: http://www.bio.tamu.edu/facmenu/faculty/LintsR.htm

19 February 2009

In February, we will host our second Robin (this time with an "I"), Robin Fuchs-Young. Some of you may have met her at HESTEC; she's visited our campus a few times, and we are pleased to have her back for a longer visit.

More information about Dr. Fuchs-Young and her research is at: http://sciencepark.mdanderson.org/faculty/fuchs-young_r/

09 January 2009

REU in Environmental Microbiology at UNLV

The institution: University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The program: The program provides undergraduates with an opportunity to perform independent research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Mentors have projects in: adaptation of Pseudomonas to diverse soils; biology of Shigella flexneri; characterization of polar microorganisms; ccology of boiling and near-boiling springs; endolithic, desert and geomicrobiology; impact of anthropogenic nitrogen loading; magnetotaxis of bacteria;
microbial diversity of deep subsurface aquifers; mutagenesis in nutrient limiting conditions, and; sporulation of Bacillus anthracis.

  • 1 June to 7 August 2009

  • $4,500 stipend

  • Round trip airfare

  • Food allowance

  • Complimentary housing in a UNLV dormitory

Application requirements:

  • One page career essay

  • Transcripts

  • Two letters of recommendation from science instructors

Application deadline: 7 March 2009

More information: http://sols.unlv.edu/reu_main.html

08 January 2009

The Minority Health Disparities Undergraduate Summer Research Program

The institution: University of Arizona

The program: The objective of the program is to help prepare, motivate, and support students who aspire to obtain a Ph.D. and pursue a career in research. Each student is paired with a faculty mentor who conducts research in the biomedical sciences (particularly pulmonary, heart and vascular, and blood diseases and disorders) in which they have a specific interest, participate in weekly seminars offered by UA faculty on health issues disproportionately affecting minority populations, attend weekly workshops on graduate school preparation and presentation skill development, attend a GRE Prep Workshop, and present their work at the University of Arizona's end of summer research symposium.

  • A financial award of $4,000 for 10 weeks of research and other activities

  • Round-trip airfare to Tucson from anywhere within the United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico

  • Six units of transferable research course credit

  • Housing will be available at the University of Arizona residence halls

Eligibility: For undergraduates in the summer between their junior and senior year, or students who have completed their baccalaureate degree but not yet been accepted into a graduate program.

More information: http://grad.arizona.edu/imsd/undergraduate-summer

Minority Pre-Doctoral Research Training at UT Southwestern

The institution: University of Texas Southwestern

The program: 10 week program in the summer of 2009. Details to be announced pending successful funding.

A certain number of slots are expected to be reserved for UTPA students. Contact a UTPA professor to work with the institution.

Although the application indicates that only Texas residents will qualify for the
program and that this program is not for students interested in pursuing the MD/PhD degree, students from UTPA will be considered regardless of state of residency and student with future interests in the MD as well as the MD/PhD degree will be considered for this program.

Application: https://www4.utsouthwestern.edu/applications/utsumrapp.htm

Mentorship for Environmental Scholars

The institution: Varies.

The program: The Mentorship for Environmental Scholars (MES) Program is a nine-week paid summer internship that provides exposure to laboratory research in the areas of biotechnology, computer science, environmental science and engineering to underrepresented college students. The MES program actively recruits qualified undergraduates from MIs for extensive training that will pilot them towards gainful employment in various research and management positions within the Department of Energy (DOE).

More information: http://www.uncfsp.org/spknowledge/default.aspx?page=program.view&areaid=1&contentid=178&typeid=mesinternship

Ecology in Context: Independent Research in Ecology for Undergraduates

The institution: Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York

The program: Ten undergraduate students will join the Cary Institute research community in 2009 to complete a research project of their own design; be a part of an exciting research community; work closely with leading ecologists; exchange ideas with a diverse group of students, scientists and educators; have access to state of the art facilities; explore ecology career options and rewards; see how ecological research has an impact on our society.

The program emphasizes the community nature of the scientific enterprise, fosters reflection and builds self confidence and skills. To complement their mentored research, students have many chances to interact, give and receive feedback and support, and participate in a rich assortment of enrichment activities, workshops and field trips.

  • 26 May - 14 August 2009

  • $5,100 stipend, plus $600 allowance for food and free housing in Bacon Flats Lodge

  • Some assistance is available for travel to and from the program as well.


  • Undergraduate freshmen, sophomores, juniors or first semester seniors.

  • U.S. Citizen

Application deadline: 1 February 2009

More information: http://www.ecostudies.org/reu.html

REU at SICB 2009 in Boston: Science in the snow

Two UTPA students in the REU program traveled out to Boston to the annual Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting to present their REU research.

On the bus to do a little sightseeing and shopping before the meeting. You normally don't see southern Texas women this bundled up... L to R: HHMI student Sakshi Puri, REU student Stephanie Jimenez, and REU student Ashley Longoria.

Shopping accomplished (note bags), now on to the sightseeing. Visiting Harvard University. L to R: Ashley, Sakshi, REU overlord Zen Faulkes, and Stephanie.

Ashley talking to a customer in front of her poster at the Monday poster session.

Stephanie explaining her crayfish to an visitor on Monday.

At the airport, ready to head back home after a successful and fun conference. L to R: Sakshi, Ashley, and Stephanie.

Stephanie's had enough!