Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Microbial Biofilm Development, Resistance, & Community Structure
This Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site at Binghamton University is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was developed to offer undergraduates an actively-mentored, collaborative research experience on microbial biofilms that promotes professional skill development and research readiness.
A team of faculty from more than three departments across campus serve as faculty research mentors for REU student teams.
The REU Site is centered around the study of microbial biofilms, communities of bacteria and other microorganisms that grow attached to a surface or interface within a self-secreted extracellular polymeric slime matrix.
Program research will focus on three main aspects
- how biofilms form and develop,
- biofilm-specific mechanisms of antimicrobial tolerance, resistance, and virulence
- how biofilm community structure and composition impacts function
Undergraduate research projects may cover microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, and engineering disciplines. Additionally, faculty and REU staff will support student’s professional skill development and exploration of career and future research opportunities to facilitate their continued success and growth in STEM beyond the summer program.
The program will expose students to the importance of research in microbial biofilms and how this research can be applied throughout our lives to control unwanted biofilms and take advantage of beneficial biofilm behaviors. In addition to the research, students will participate in workshops with other summer research programs to cover topics in networking, research communication, research ethics, graduate school, career options, and more. Social events will also be organized to help immerse students in the research community and give students exposure to the Binghamton area. Research, workshops, and social events aim to provide students with a holistic research experience that gives them exposure and experience that can be leveraged for their professional development and future successes.
The REU program will run over 10-weeks in coordination with Binghamton’s other summer REU programs and Summer Research Immersion Programs. For Summer 2023, the program will begin on Tuesday May 30st and run through Friday August 4th.
Students will be paired with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows within the faculty mentor’s labs to guide them through their independent research projects within the supervising faculty mentor’s lab. Student projects will be collaborative in nature between two collaborating faculty mentors such that REU students will have a peer REU student working alongside them on a larger collaborative project. As such, students will develop both independence and teamwork skills required for success in the STEM workforce. Students will be trained in the scientific process behind microbial research, forming hypotheses, designing experiments, collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data and reporting results via multiple scientific communication avenues. Moreover, we will offer support both during and post-program including advice on graduate studies and career development. This training will empower students to become leaders and innovators able to respond to the global challenges of the 21st century.
Orientation will be held throughout the first week. Over the course of the orientation, students and faculty mentors will be formally introduced, students will tour BU’s facilities, and students will receive training in laboratory safety, interdisciplinary research (responsible conduct of research and mentor mentee relationships) and fundamental microbiology research methods (Working with Microorganisms and Biofilms Basics courses from the BBRC). During this week students will be assigned to their research teams getting to meet their faculty team, graduate student and post doc team, and REU peer teammate. The final work of orientation will be for newly paired research teams to put their initial training to use and project map their research plan for the remaining 9 weeks in the summer.
Work in labs under the direction of mentor team from Monday to Friday. Students are required to develop their own research plans, experimental protocols, collect and interpret experimental data, take notes, and write research reports. This period will include weekly REU participant meetings, biofilm research group meetings, and undergraduate student research seminars to ensure that students are connected to their REU cohort, the larger biofilm research group, and the larger Binghamton University undergraduate research community throughout the program.
A public research poster session will be held in conjunction with other campus undergraduate research programs to provide a venue for students to present the results of their research in a poster. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty mentors, administration, and others will be invited to interact with REU students. Student teams will also prepare a research manuscript communicating their summer findings.