Microbial Symbioses and Diversity Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

Program Overview

The study of “host–microbe ecosystems” has become a fast-growing discipline in modern biology that highlights the reliance that exists between multicellular organisms and their associated microbes. Moreover, diverse ongoing microbiome projects, including the Human Microbiome, provide new research opportunities to expand our knowledge on the vital roles that microorganisms play not only in human health but in other organisms as well.

Microbes have also been recognized as key players in the bio-geochemistry that runs our planet, being therefore central to human endeavors, from food to health to industry. Yet, much needs to be investigated about the great diversity of microbes, as well as their complex relations with each other, their hosts and the environment. As the world faces global change and resource limitation, understanding the planet’s microbes will become a necessity. Moreover, many future advances in medicine, agriculture, and industry will come from investigating interactions of beneficial microbes with their hosts. In this respect, it is imperative that a new generation of scientists is trained with a multi-disciplinary perspective to recognize the supremacy of the relationships between microbes and other organisms, not only for the health of individuals but also for the environments in which they live

The site for this program will be hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at the University of Arizona (UA), where more than twenty laboratories from diverse departments and research units are dedicated to the study of microbial biodiversity and symbiosis in plants, animals, as well as their role in ecosystem function.


The specific goals of this intensive program are: 

1) To foster an appreciation of microbial diversity and microbial interactions with other organisms and the environment;

2) To develop research skills and independent thinking;

3) To increase student success and networking to pursue graduate studies.


Program Facts 

The CALS REU-site on Microbial Symbioses will host a 10 week summer program from May 25 to August 8, 2020, and will recruit 12 undergraduates per year. This program will allow undergraduate students from 2-year colleges to participate in active and cutting-edge research in a wide range of disciplines, including microbial biodiversity, plant/animal microbe interactions, environmental microbiology, plant pathology, entomology, microbial bioprospecting, microbial evolution, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics.

Stipend, Housing and Travel

Participants are provided:

  • $5,400 stipend meal plan
  • Housing on campus
  • Round trip transportation to Tucson (up to $ 500)



The program seeks to recruit undergraduate students who are members of underrepresented groups in STEM fields.

Applicants must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at a U.S. college or university and have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Students should have completed at least 4 semesters by the start of the program. In addition, students must have at least one semester of undergraduate study remaining after completing the summer program and fulfill the NSF citizenship requirements.



Applications may be sublited from December 2, 2019, through Febuary 7, 2020

Submit your application here.