Research Experience for Undergraduates: Mechanisms of Evolution

Program Details

The goals of this program are to provide undergraduates with hypothesis-based projects that investigate one or more mechanisms of evolution, promote careers in science, reinforce the connection between genetics and evolution, and highlight the accomplishments of evolutionary scholars. At the conclusion of the program, students will present their research results at a scientific colloquium.

Students from underrepresented groups and from academic institutions with limited research opportunities, including two-year colleges, are strongly encouraged to apply.

Contact Information

If you have questions, email moereu@unlv.edu for more information.

Eligibility

  • Applications will be accepted from students majoring in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental science, microbiology, science education, and mathematics enrolled at either a two-year or four-year institution.
  • First-generation college students, members of groups underrepresented in science, education majors, non-traditional students, and post-9/11 veterans are encouraged to apply.
  • Applications will only be accepted from U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders).
  • Students receiving their bachelor's degree in May/June of the current academic year are not eligible for this program.
  • Students with funding from other sources such as EPSCoR, McNair, NASA, MARC, and RISE are eligible for this program, but cost sharing or matching might be required by the granting agencies.
  • High school students should contact the REU Program at moereu@unlv.edu to determine their eligibility.

Application Tips

  • The career essay is an extremely important part of the selection criteria and the research mentors expect a well-written one-page (minimum) composition. Applicants should prepare their essay with a word processing program. All applicants should consult the Eduers website for tips on preparing an outstanding statement.
  • Applicants may use Google Scholar to find recent publications of the selected mentors. Be sure to mention which publication you reviewed for each mentor. The selection committee realizes that applicants may not understand everything in a mentor's publications, but will be impressed by the additional effort.
  • It is also recommended that applicants show their essay to the faculty member that will provide a letter of recommendation.

Salary

  • Each participant will receive a $5,750 salary disbursed into two equal checks at that beginning of July and August. The salary is subject to federal taxes and withholding.
  • REU participants may be required to sign-up for direct deposit.

Travel Subsidy

  • The REU program will make every attempt to provide round-trip airfare for every participant. Unfortunately, the REU program is not able to pay airline fees and charges for either baggage or rescheduled flights.
  • The standard mileage reimbursement regulations will be employed for participants that drive to UNLV.

Student Housing

  • REU participants will reside in air-conditioned double-occupancy dormitory rooms located on campus. Each suite contains two bedrooms, a small refrigerator, microwave, Internet connection, and a shared bathroom. REU students should bring twin sheets, pillowcases, a blanket, and a desk lamp.
  • There is no married student housing at UNLV, and pets are not allowed in the dorm. Cooking is prohibited in the dormitory.
  • A 100-meal dining plan will be provided to out-of-state participants.
  • The dormitory is a 15 min. walk from the research laboratories.

Medical Insurance

  • All REU students must have proof of major medical insurance. Contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers for Clark County, NV. Students without medical insurance must purchase a temporary policy. Contact the REU program director for additional information.

Additional Information

The Program

The REU Site: Mechanisms of Evolution (MOE) invites talented undergraduates to participate in hypothesis-driven research projects that investigate evolutionary change using prokaryotic, eukaryotic and viral models. REU projects will dovetail existing funded research within the sub-disciplines of Bioinformatics, Evolution by Natural Selection and Biochemical Adaptations. MOE takes a holistic approach towards training undergraduates and the co-curricular program integrates three modules: Working like a Scientist, Science Communication, and Career Exploration. Working like a Scientist asks the participants to take ownership of their project by formulating hypotheses, planning experiments, analyzing data, reading primary literature, and participating in lab meetings. The Science Communication module provides the participants with the opportunity to speak at group meetings, receive mentoring on preparing an abstract, and present at the Summer Research Symposium. The Career Exploration module consists of presentations by REU mentors on possible career trajectories, and the participants initiating Individual Development Plans. The goal of the tripartite approach is for participants to gain the required technical, communication, and goal setting skills that allow them to transition from trainee to apprentice scientist. The capstone of the ten-week experience is a poster presentation at the Summer Research.

Time Commitment

REU research internships are 10-week full-time (40 hr) research internships. REU participants will be introduced to the culture of research science by presenting at lab meetings, reading publications, analyzing experimental data and summarizing their results for a research symposium. Occasionally, participants will need to visit the lab over the weekend or after hours.

Number of Applications Received Each Year

This REU site receives more than 100 applications and selects 10 participants each year.

Application Tips

The career essay is an extremely important part of the selection criteria and the research mentors expect a well-written one-page (minimum) composition. Applicants should prepare their essay with a word processing program.

All applicants should use Google Scholar to find the recent publications of the selected mentors. Be sure to mention in your statement that you reviewed these publications. The selection committee knows that applicants may not understand everything in these publications, but will be impressed by the additional effort.

It is also recommended that applicants show their essay to the faculty member that will provide a letter of recommendation.

Housing

REU participants will reside in air-conditioned double occupancy dormitory rooms located on campus. Each suite contains two bedrooms, a small refrigerator, microwave, Internet connection and a shared bathroom.

REU students should bring twin sheets, pillowcases, blanket and a desk lamp.

Unfortunately, there is no married student housing at UNLV.

Pets are not allowed in the dorm.

The dormitory is a 15 min walk from the research laboratories.

REU participants are responsible for lost keys and damage to the room.

Cooking is prohibited in the dormitory.

Library, Recreation Center and Student Union

REU students will have full access to the Lied Library, Student Recreation and Wellness Center and Student Union.

Parking

Students driving to campus should check with the Parking & Transportation Services for the latest parking regulations and rates.

Pharmacy

Walgreens (store no. 5311) at the northwest corner of Maryland and Flamingo is the closest pharmacy to the dormitory.

1180 E. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
702-836-9119

Medical Clinic

University Medical Clinic (UMC) will accept out-of-state medical insurance and Urgent Care is available on a walk-in basis.

UMC Spring Valley QuickCare
4180 S. Rainbow Blvd, Suite 810
Las Vegas, NV 89103
702-383-2273

UMC Spring Valley QuickCare, 20 min drive from UNLV.

Important Dates

Date Description
Friday, February 22, 2019
Application Deadline extended.
Friday, March 22, 2019
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Friday, August 2, 2019

Undergraduate projects funded by the REU Site: Mechanisms of Evolution will focus on biological processes that drive heritable change. The inspiration for this proposal is the celebrated essay, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution by Theodosius Dobzhansky. Professor Dobzhansky provided the following unambiguous explanation of the process, “The environment presents challenges to living species, to which the latter may respond by adaptive genetic change and the potential outcomes allowed a species to occupy a formerly empty ecological niche or to resist the environmental change if it is unfavorable.” The Light of Evolution essay did not address specific evolutionary mechanisms, but Dobzhansky recognized their significance by stating, “The mechanisms that bring evolution about certainly need study and clarification.”

Funding for this program was provided by the National Science Foundation grant DBI REU 1757316. UNLV is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer Committed to Achieving Excellence Through Diversity.