2023 Summer PreMiEr Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)

Key Information

Who: Current K-12 or community college teachers
When: June 14th – July 18th, 2023
Where: One of PreMiEr’s five participating North Carolina universities
Application due date: April 14th, 2023
Application link: Now closed.

The NSF Engineering Research Center for Precision Microbiome Engineering (PreMiEr) is pleased to announce and seek applicants for its inaugural Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program for the Summer of 2023.

The RET program invites K-12 and community college teachers from North Carolina to spend five weeks working with scientists and researchers on the campus of one of our five participating institutions (Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State University, NC A&T University, UNC-Charlotte). During the program, participants will take part in and learn about research on various aspects of the microbiomes of the built environment and develop lesson plans based on PreMiEr research.


The overall mission of PreMiEr is to improve the health of buildings and indoor spaces in which humans spend the majority of their time through modification of the microbes that inhabit those structures. We know that the microorganisms that live on and in the human body can have significant impacts on our health and can contribute to diseases such as asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, IBS/IBD, and even mental health disorders. However, exactly how our bodies acquire these microbes and the interactions between our own microbiomes and the environments surrounding us is less clear. Potential projects will focus on different aspects of this grand challenge, including :

    • Measuring the built environment microbiome through multi-omic studies (e.g., genomics, transcriptomics, or metabolomics); developing methods for sensing specific organisms in the environment
    • Modifying the built environment microbiome using technologies to add, remove, or replace specific microorganisms or functions
    • Computer modeling of the interactions of the microbiomes in the built environment and human inhabitants
    • Developing and working with bioinformatics data and pipelines relevant to analyses of microbiome data
    • Studying the social, ethical, and moral issues surrounding the modification and engineering of microbiomes

In the application, teachers will be asked to rank their interest in each of these aspects of research. Applicants will also be asked to indicate which of the PreMiEr campuses they are willing to travel to for the program. While efforts will be made to match participant interest and experience to projects, placement in specific labs, or within specific projects is not guaranteed.

Program Description

Teachers in the RET program will spend 5 weeks during the summer of 2023 working in a specific laboratory on their host campus.  Participants will be invited to partake in laboratory research, attend lectures and workshops on curriculum development, and develop lessons based on PreMiEr research and activities.

Benefits and Time Commitment

Accepted applicants will receive a stipend of $5000 ($1000 per week) and up to $300 to offset the personal costs of travel to and from the host university. This is a non-residential program; housing is not provided.

Participants will spend 4 days a week on campus/in the lab and 1 day per week on professional development activities. Participants are expected to create two lesson plans/activities during this period.  These will be shared on the PreMiEr website and participants will share them at an education related conference (e.g., SciREN, NCSTA, etc.). Absences must be arranged in advance with PreMiEr RET Program Lead and the individual faculty mentor at their host institution.

The program runs from June 14 through July 18, 2023.

Application Process

Applicants are required to be US citizens or permanent residents who are currently employed as a K-12 or community college teacher in a STEM field. Applicants with a strong STEM background are preferred. The PreMiEr RET is particularly interested in applicants from historically marginalized communities or groups underrepresented in STEM.

To apply:

    • Complete the online form on NSF ETAP linked below, including the following documents:
      • A brief personal statement/letter of interest
      • A (1) letter of recommendation from a principal, department chair, or similar individual
      • A 1-2 page CV
      • Applicants may submit a sample lesson plan/activity that they have developed, but this is not required

Applications are being accepted now until March 31, 2023.

Please email questions about the program to: premier_erc@duke.edu.

Interested applicants can apply through the NSF ETAP portal here: