Undergraduate Summer Research Program

Our summer program was initiated in 1993 with a five-year grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. More recently the department has administered the NSF- REU program (2002-2004 and 2009-2011) as well as internally funded programs. Our summer program allows students to choose projects from a range of disciplines including: cell, molecular, and developmental biology; genetics; evolutionary biology; structural biology; microbiology; neurobiology; and physiology.

Applications for Summer 2019 are due by February 1, 2019.

  • Program Information
  • Apply
  • FAQs
  • Summer Research Mentors
  • Past Student Research
  • Activities

The Department of Biological Sciences is pleased to announce our 10-week Interdisciplinary Summer Research Program in Biology starting Monday, June 3 and finishing with our research symposium on Wednesday, August 7, 2019. The Department of Biological Sciences has a productive faculty actively engaged in both research and teaching. Low student to faculty ratio and the value Marquette places on teaching allows summer students to develop close and supportive relationships with their faculty mentors.

Participants conduct independent research projects in faculty laboratories in the areas of microbiology, molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, genetics, structural biology, neurobiology or invertebrate/vertebrate physiology. Students will work under the direct supervision of a faculty research mentor. Through "hands-on" experience, students will develop a realistic view of scientific research, its pace, its demands, and the thrill of discovery. Participating faculty mentors can be found under Summer Research Mentors. Projects and abstracts of recent summer program participants can be viewed under Student Research.

Essential written and verbal communication skills will be developed through weekly journal clubs, laboratory group meetings, and dinner discussions/presentations. Workshops on research ethics, and graduate school admission will be offered. At the end of the summer, students will present the results of their research at both a university-wide poster session and symposium. A variety of social activities will be interwoven throughout the summer including frequent ice cream socials, a picnic by Lake Michigan, and a Brewers game. 

Participation in the Summer Research Program is a full-time obligation: students may not enroll in classes or hold outside employment during the program.


Applicants should have completed their sophomore or junior year by the start of the program with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. Minimum course requirements are the completion of a full year of college biology, and general chemistry with laboratories. One semester of calculus, organic chemistry and additional advanced work in biology are preferred, but not required. Students who graduate before December 2018 are not eligible.

We run one Summer Research Program that is divided into two separate programs at the administrative level:

NSF-REU: Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research in Biology

This program is restricted to students who plan to attend graduate school and pursue research careers. Members of under-represented minority groups and students from colleges with limited research opportunities are especially encouraged to apply. Marquette students are not eligible for this program. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.  Students participating in this program will be housed in furnished Campus Town apartments with full kitchen facilities. Each student will receive a $5500 stipend plus food allowance for the 10-week program, and funds are available to cover travel costs to and from Milwaukee. 

SRP: Biological Science

This program is open to Marquette University students.  Students participating in this program will receive a stipend.


How to apply:

Applications for Summer 2019 are due by February 1, 2019. Click here to complete the online application.

  • To complete your application, you will need to identify 3 faculty members you would be interested in working with as your Summer Research Mentor.
  • In a personal statement (500 words maximum), please describe (a) your motivation to pursue this research experience, including your long-term educational and career aspirations, (b) what area of biological research is the most exciting to you. This could include a topic in a class that you found compelling or an experimental method in a lab class that you enjoyed, and (c) any prior training or research experience that may serve as a foundation for your research internship. Please note that prior research experience is not required for participation in this program.
  • In your application, you will need to identify two people who are willing to write reference letters for you. Please do not have your references send letters; we will contact them if letters are required.
  • You may also include a one to two page resume with your application.

What are the benefits of independent undergraduate research?

In order to be "science literate" in the 21st century, isn't it sufficient to read the textbooks and take the required classes? Textbooks necessarily give a condensed and sometimes distorted impression of how science is really done. Our undergraduate research programs offer a golden opportunity for you to find out what science and biology are really all about. You will join a research team investigating an important scientific problem. You will learn to critically read the scientific literature on your chosen research topic and to formulate hypotheses. You will learn to design and carry out experiments to test the validity of your hypotheses. In short, you will actually "do science."

The range of research topics available in the Biological Sciences is bewildering. How will I ever be able to make the choice that is best for me?

A good place to begin is with the departmental web page, which has descriptions of each faculty member's research. More important than the research topic, however, is the compatibility between student and mentor. Learning to do science: designing experiments, mastering good laboratory techniques, analyzing data and writing reports, are skills that can be applied to any area of science and to most aspects of your life. We have a formal process designed to bring together interested student researchers and potential research mentors for the summer research program through personal interviews. In addition, many students discover research opportunities by word-of-mouth or by informally approaching individual faculty.

If I participate in the summer research program, how much interaction will I have with my mentor? Won't he or she be away for most of the summer?

Most faculty in Biological Sciences work in their laboratories during the summer, advancing their research. Faculty members participating in the undergraduate summer research program personally guide students admitted to their laboratory. Becoming an integral part of an active research group is a most rewarding experience.

Do I have to wait until after my junior year to become involved in laboratory research?  

You need to have sophomore or junior standing to enroll in our summer research program.

What is the difference between the summer research program and a laboratory class? How can I be sure I won't be performing a dull, repetitive task? Since I am only a beginning researcher, what creative input will I have?

In the summer research program, you will be attempting a project where the outcome is unknown. You will get a taste of both the excitement and frustration of scientific research. Once immersed in the research project you will find that seemingly disparate concepts taught in several courses connect to produce a coherent picture for a research goal. If you are to advance your project, you must become a problem solver, and an independent learner. You will be guided in this effort by frequent discussions with your mentor and with the other members of the research group.

How does the summer research program work?

Application Process: Interested students fill out an application during the spring semester. After perusing the departmental web site, they list 3 faculty with whom they are interested in doing research. The participating faculty interview students, after which both the faculty and students rank their choices. Faculty are matched with interested students based on the rankings of both parties by a faculty committee.

Research Project:

Step 1: Designing the project. Usually the faculty mentor will have a project in mind that is of appropriate scope for undergraduate research. The faculty member will explain the background and assign some pertinent readings. In the beginning, the student will receive explicit suggestions on how to begin. The student will have increasing input in the design of experiments as the project evolves.

Step 2: Research. The student will be assigned space and resources in the research lab. They will be provided with protocols and advice as needed by more experienced members of the research group. Expect some surprises! The data obtained in original research often do not support the hypothesis. The most interesting aspect of science is trying to figure out what the data do mean, formulating new hypotheses, and designing the experiments to test them.

Step 3: Presentation of results. Students will present the results of their research at the end of the summer in both a poster session and a symposium featuring undergraduate research.

Related Activities: A number of activities are planned to enrich the summer research experience and advance the skills of the participants. These include a journal club, in which the students take turns presenting papers from the scientific literature to the group. There are also seminars and discussions with scientists at various levels, which afford an opportunity for the student to ask questions about careers in science and how best to enter them. Social activities include picnics, tailgate and Brewers game, bowling, and frequent ice cream socials. 

Stipend: Students selected to participate in our undergraduate summer research program receive a 10-week stipend.

MCO4: a gene Necessary for Synthesis of the Peritrophic Matrix and Normal Larval Development in Drosophila melanogaster.
Kevin Aumiller, SUNY Fredonia. Mentor: Ed Blumenthal

Drop-Dead (drd) and Fatty Acid Transport Protein (Fatp) in Drosophila melanogaster.
Martha Avila-Zavala, Whittier College. Mentor: Ed Blumenthal

Detecting transitions between sex chromosome systems in bent-toed geckos, Cyrtodactylus.
Madison Blumer, Scripps College. Mentor: Tony Gamble

Purification of a Mutant Form of Human Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 6.
Ryan Burd, Marquette University. Mentor: Sophia Origanti

mir-44/45 regulation of the MAPK signaling pathway.
Matt Cavanaugh, Marquette University. Mentor: Allison Abbott

Effect of single post translational modification in large RPA complex.
Amorina Cruz, Alverno College. Mentor: Edwin Antony

Identification of genes and pathways regulated by the miR-44 family in C. elegans.
Kelly Enriquez, Marquette University. Mentor: Allison Abbott

Characterizing drd Expression in the Epidermal Cells of Drosophila melanogaster.
Nate Fischer, Marquette University. Mentor: Ed Blumenthal

Testing the ability of LIN-15B and LIN-35 to repress the opposite gene’s expression.
Carlos Gonzalez, Marquette University. Mentor: Lisa Petrella

Optimizing Visualization of Flagellar Proteins in Live Cells.
Gwen Jones, Normandale Community College. Mentor: Pinfen Yang

mir-52 is necessary for male fertility in C. elegans.
Madison Lucas, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Mentor: Allison Abbott

The Relationship Between ATG Genes and Prion Clearance.
Mitch Oddo, Marquette University. Mentor: Anita Manogaran

Hsp104 and Heat Stress--Implications for Disassembling Transthyretin Aggregation.
Jake Reilly, Marquette University. Mentor: Anita Manogaran

Low Mg2+ solution induces seizure-like activity in hippocampal slices from male and female neonatal rats.
Carlos Roman Santiago, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. Mentor: Michelle Mynlieff

Polarity of Rad52 Plays Fundamental Role in Assembly of the Homologous Recombination Protein Complex.
Emma Tillison, Marquette University. Mentor: Edwin Antony

Analysis of sex myoblast migration in mir-44/45 C. elegans mutants.
Julia Theiss, Scripps College. Mentor: Allison Abbott

Additional Sup35 Reduces DMSO Mediated Curing in Weak [PSI+].
Mariela Vega, CSU Sacramento. Mentor: Anita Manogaran

Patterns of apoptosis in embryonic Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus) limbs differ between developmental stages.
Amelia Zietlow, Carthage College. Mentor: Tony Gamble

Optimizing transfection conditions to express eIF6 in mammary epithelial cells.
Lauren Klein, University of Notre Dame. Mentor: Sofia Origanti               

Summer Research Program Activities

While research is the number one attraction, the Marquette University summer research program provides many other activities for program participants:

  • a weekly journal club 
  • workshops on ethical issues in science and medicine
  • workshops on career opportunities 
  • seminars by faculty from Marquette and other universities
  • end-of-the-summer undergraduate research symposium

Campus Map

Welcome to Milwaukee

There are many opportunities for planned and unplanned outings and excursion. Summertime in Milwaukee provides many opportunities for entertainment, with an almost continuous program of ethnic festivals, lakefront festivals (such as Summerfest), musical and theatre attractions, and outdoor activities, including sailing on Lake Michigan.

While you will be spending most of your time in the Wehr Life Sciences Building, all work and no play will make you dull and cranky. To prevent that, the Brew City offers a plethora of activities to keep you fresh and alive.

Milwaukee has all the things a big city has to offer (like the arts, major league sports, great restaurants and parks) with fewer of the hassles (like big city prices, crime, pollution and traffic).

Here are just some of the many things you can do in Milwaukee during the summer:

    • Endulge your cultured side at the nearby Milwaukee Art Museum (be sure to ask for the student discount) or check out the world's largest dinosaur skull at the Milwaukee Public Museum, just a few blocks from campus. Visit the S/V Denis Sullivan, a 137-foot replica of a 19th century Great Lakes schooner at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin.
    • Hop on your bike and head for Lake Michigan's beaches (they're less than two miles from campus).
    • Hear some great bands at The Rave, Shank Hall, and Jazz in the Park. Or if you want to hear them all in one place, head to Summerfest -- the nation's largest outdoor music festival.
    • Go outside and play... in nearly 15,000 acres of parks including 89 miles of bikeways, 17 municipal golf courses and countless baseball diamonds, basketball and tennis courts.
    • Catch a Brewers game at the new Miller Park Baseball Stadium, two miles from campus.
    • Savor Milwaukee's more than 1,500 restaurants, from Mexican to Thai, Italian to German, cheeseburgers to Chinese.

When you're in Milwaukee, you've got the best of both worlds — a big city with a small town feel.

For more information about the Summer Research Program, contact:

Application Questions: Program Questions:

Ms. Deborah Weaver
Department of Biological Sciences
Wehr Life Sciences Building
Marquette University
PO Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Dr. Allison Abbott
Department of Biological Sciences
Summer Research Program Director
(414) 288-4422