Binghamton University-HHMI Program: Interdisciplinary research for undergraduate majors in science and engineering


Guidelines when designing research projects

The program supports research projects that

  1. Focus on a problem, question, invention or method development related to the life sciences, including applications in the biomedical, behavioral, environmental or agricultural fields.
  2. Require an interdisciplinary approach involving two or more faculty members, at least one in each of two complementary groups:
    • life sciences
    • computer science, engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences
  3. Engage one or more undergraduate STEM majors in research that requires the undergraduate student(s) to interact directly and regularly with at least one person from a complementary discipline

Faculty members who have conceived of a project but do not have a collaborator can submit a description of the idea, as much information as possible on the expertise needed in the person of the collaborator and contact information.  

Faculty members who have undergraduate students in mind should direct the undergraduate student to submit an application to the program.

Support provided by the program 

  1. assistance in finding faculty collaborators. Contact Nancy Stamp, Christopher Bishop or Wayne Jones.
  2. Student placement. The program will accept student applicants contingent upon placement in an appropriate project. Final placement will be made only after a successful interview with the faculty mentor whom the student will work with most closely.
  3. Undergraduate student stipend of $5,000: $4,500 through nine weeks of summer, followed by $500 at the end of the spring semester.
  4. assistance in the form of supplies.
  5. Certificate-level training of graduate student research mentors in mentoring of undergraduates specifically relative to interdisciplinary research, with supplementary fellowship support for completion of tasks relating to the certificate and assessment of the interdisciplinary research process.  This involves a three-day workshop and follow-up assessments.  Graduate students will receive $1000 stipend. 
  6. feedback of assessment results in the aggregate


  1. Set up or ensure a lab mentoring environment that provides the appropriate proportion of supervision and independence during appropriate stages of maturation of the undergraduate research student. It is expected that at least one faculty member will be on campus or easily reachable at all times throughout the nine-week summer research program. 
  2. Provide at least weekly opportunities for the undergraduate research student to interact and communicate with others in his/her own discipline and also in the complementary discipline. The communication and interaction can be with faculty mentors, graduate students, other undergraduate students or other professionals in the research laboratory.  
  3. Provide evaluation of the undergraduate student’s work and (if applicable) the graduate student’s work as a mentor, to be shared with the appropriate student. We will ask for written evaluation at the middle and the end of the summer, as well as at the end of the following fall and spring semesters. Surveys will also ask for faculty mentors' views on undergraduate student participation in interdisciplinary STEM research. 
  4. Help program-supported undergraduate students prepare for presentations of their work at various occasions: (a) poster session at the end of full time work for nine weeks of the summer, which is required of all grant-supported students; (b) departmentally-based research symposium, campus research fair or appropriate regional conference, which is required of all grant-supported students at least once during the academic year following the supported summer; (c) preparation of figures and tables for manuscripts when applicable; and (d) provide feedback on two other posters at the summer poster session displaying work supported by this program.
  5. Encourage grant-supported undergraduate students to pursue a research-based career contributing to biologically-related sciences, and help the program with tracking of their program-supported students after they graduate.

How to join

Faculty members with ideas for a project or are interested in meeting potential collaborating faculty, please fill out an application/inquiry form (.doc. 42kb). Send the form to Elizabeth Button

How students are placed

In the Spring term, undergraduate students in mathematics and science majors in Harpur College and in computer science and engineering majors in the Watson School of Engineering send in an application form. One-page synopses of faculty projects outlining the project, what undergraduate students will do, and what academic background the students are expected to have will be available for the applicants to view. Undergraduate applicants will be asked to indicate their top two preferences.

A committee makes the first selection of students from the applications, supplementing with an interview as deemed necessary. Each faculty pair whose projects have been lined up for the year are given the applications of those students in this chosen group, asked to interview at least three students and to rank preference or in some cases, not suitable for the project. The students are placed to achieve the most optimal arrangement.

Faculty members whose projects are lined up for the year are requested to announce the availability of this program in the classes that best prepare the students for the proposed work. Recruiting of students who are underrepresented in their discipline is highly encouraged.

Last Updated: 6/18/15