Integrative Molecular Plant Systems Research Experience

REU participants

Participants in the NCSU 2012 REU.

About the program

The Biotechnology Program and Department of Plant and Microbial Biology welcome applications for the Integrative Molecular Plant Systems Undergraduate Research Experience. NCSU has a strong core of plant biologists who are working in the areas of sustainable foods, fuels, and developing model systems for studying fundamental biological mechanisms. During the 10-week summer program, students will actively engage in a research project under the mentorship of a participating faculty member. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Who should apply?

The program is open to all rising sophomore, junior, and senior undergraduate students enrolled in a degree program leading to a baccalaureate degree with a demonstrated interest in molecular biology. Applicants will be evaluated based on their statement of interest, transcript, and letters of recommendation. We particularly encourage students from institutions other than NCSU to apply, though there will be one slot available for an NCSU student. Prior research experience is not required. North Carolina State University is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from underrepresented groups, including minorities and people with disabilities.

This program is only open to US citizens and permanent residents.


This is a summer program that will run May 25 - July 31, 2015.

Program activities

The program kicks off with a three-day “Biotechnology Bootcamp”, where participants will learn critical molecular biology laboratory skills. Participants will pursue independent research projects for the remainder of the summer under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Students will also have multiple public-speaking opportunities to present their research, including a poster presentation at the campus-wide undergraduate research symposium at the end of the program.

Sample projects


Research focus for undergraduate projects

Dr. José Alonso and Dr. Anna Stepanova

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Molecular genetics of plant hormone interactions in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and development of new functional genomics tools.

Dr. Cranos Williams

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Development of novel modeling and computational tools for advancing the comprehensive understanding of emergent properties in biochemical pathways associated with plant growth, development, and adaptation.

Dr. Colleen Doherty

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Time management for plants -- developing molecular tools to understand how plants track time and coordinate their daily activities.

Dr. Bob Franks

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Molecular genetics of transcriptional networks controlling flower and seed pod development.

Dr. Amy Grunden

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Biotechnological applications of extremophiles for biofuel production, bioremediation and crop improvement.

Dr. Linda Hanley-Bowdoin

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Functional analysis of cassava genomic sequences that enhance geminivirus symptoms (SEGS) as a first step in the development of effective disease resistance strategies against Cassava mosaic disease.

Dr. Imara Perera

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Examining the role of lipid-mediated signaling in plant responses to abiotic and biotic stress.

Dr. Marcela Rojas Pierce

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Molecular characterization of organelle biogenesis in plants.

Dr. Ross Sozzani

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Molecular mechanisms regulating stem cell maintenance, cell proliferation and cell fate decisions during root development.
Financial support

Stipends, room, board, and travel expenses are provided.

  • Stipend: $5,000 for the 10-week session
  • Room and board: Apartment-style accommodations on-campus
  • Travel expenses: Round-trip air travel will be provided to participants who do not live within driving distance of the program

Applications and recommendation letters are due by February 20, 2015 to be guaranteed consideration.

The application requires uploading a personal statement and transcript. Please have these ready prior to filling out the application form.

The one-­page personal statement should demonstrate why you are interested in science and research, your career and educational goals, and why you think this research experience would benefit you. Include any laboratory skills, research experience, awards, honors, or extracurricular activities you would like us to know about. Please also discuss preferred areas of research based on sample projects on our website.

Submit your application, including statement of purpose and transcript, to

Ask one faculty member to submit a letter of recommendation to

For more information

Katelyn Henderson and Caroline Smith are shown with the first generation of transgenic tomatoes expressing the gene encoding superoxide reductase (SOR) from the extremophilic microorganism Pyrococcus furiosus. SOR reduces toxic free radicals and when expressed in Arabidopsis results in plants with increased, heat, light and drought tolerance. The Arabidopsis project was a collaborative effort by Dr. Amy Grunden and Wendy Boss' laboratory. It has involved many undergraduates, graduates and Dr. Yang Ju Im, a postdoc who led the work. The work was funded by NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts.