Undergraduate Education

BEACON offers many opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in ongoing research, in the summer or during the academic year, in the field or in the lab.

The BEACON Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) provides funding for ten undergraduates with previous research experience at a partner institution to travel to a field station and pursue a cross disciplinary research experience. Students engage in summer research either at Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) in Michigan or Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) in Washington, which both have strong field components and active integrated summer REU programs. Students pursue empirical evolutionary research with a strong field component, attend evening seminars on BEACON research, participate in professional development workshops (including Responsible Conduct of Research), and present results of research at regional and national meetings.  Students are invited to/expected to attend the bi-annual BEACON Congress and present results of their research there as well.

For specific details on programs for Summer 2012 please see the following:

Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) in Michigan


Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) in Washington


BEACON faculty participate in MSU’s Summer Research Opportunities Program, a gateway to graduate education at Michigan State University (MSU). The goal of the program is to increase the number of domestic undergraduate students who pursue graduate study and careers in teaching and research at colleges and universities. MSU SROP helps prepare undergraduate students for graduate study through intensive research experiences with faculty mentors and academic enrichment activities. MSU SROP helps undergraduate students gain research experience to give them a competitive advantage as a graduate applicant by:

  • Intense research activities that broaden technical and presentation skills
  • Professional development activities
  • Seminars that introduce students to a range of research fields across discipline
  • Informal gatherings for student and faculty exchange
  • Multiple opportunities to present research

MSU SROP typically convenes the third weekend of May and ends the last weekend of July.

At the University of Texas at Austin, BEACON faculty participate in the Freshman Research Initiative, which offers first year students the opportunity to initiate and engage in authentic research experiences in chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, molecular biology, physics, astronomy, and computer sciences. The BEACON Freshman Research Initiative stream in Computational Evolution enables students to explore evolution using computational tools in an inquiry based laboratory settings.  In the spring semester, students use software, such as Avida, to construct guided experiments on evolving systems.  In the summer and fall, the students pursue their own research projects using the tools and techniques that they’ve learned.  Our students gain a greater understanding not only for evolution, but also the scientific method and data analysis while being supported and mentored by BEACON faculty and graduate students. After their Research Stream experience, students have the opportunity to continue on to upper-division research in BEACON faculty labs, research abroad, summer research program experiences or research-based industry internships. Graduates of the program are ideally suited to find a job, get into graduate school, and have a lifelong career working at the intersection of evolutionary biology, computational science, and engineering.

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