2023 Summer PreMiEr Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Key Information

Who: Current undergraduate or community college students
When: May 30th – July 28th, 2023
Where: One of PreMiEr’s five participating North Carolina universities
Application due date: February 24th, 2023
Application link: Applications are closed

The NSF Engineering Research Center for Precision Microbiome Engineering (PreMiEr) is pleased to launch its inaugural Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program for the Summer of 2023.

The REU program invites undergraduate and community college students into the labs of PreMiEr researchers at either Duke University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, or The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, to perform cutting-edge research on various aspects of the microbiomes of the built environment.


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, students will be asked to rank their interest in each of these aspects of research. While efforts will be made to match student interest and experience to projects, placement on specific campuses, in specific labs, or within specific projects is not guaranteed.

Program Description

Students in the REU will spend the first week of the program on the campus of Duke University in Durham, NC for an initial boot camp and introduction to the center. Afterwards, students will spend their remaining time in the program on the campus of their host institution:

    • Duke (Durham, NC)
    • NC A&T (Greensboro)
    • NC State (Raleigh)
    • UNC Charlotte (Charlotte)
    • UNC Chapel Hill (either Chapel Hill or the Institute for Marine Sciences in Morehead City)

During their experience, students will gain hands-on experience in the lab, learn valuable professional and scientific development skills, be included in lab group meetings, and participate in events and seminar series with PreMiEr faculty, graduate students, and post-docs.

Benefits and Time Commitment

Accepted students will receive a stipend of $5,400 ($600 per week) and up to $600 for travel to and from the program. Housing is provided at no cost to accepted applicants. Students are expected to participate full-time (40 hours per week, excluding holidays) in the program. Absences must be arranged in advance with both the PreMiEr REU Program Lead and the student’s individual faculty mentor at their host institution.

The program runs from May 30 through July 28, 2023.

Application Process

Applicants are required to be US citizens or permanent residents who are currently enrolled as an undergraduate or community college student with a graduation date later than September 2023. The PreMiEr REU 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
      • Two (2) letters of recommendation
      • A transcript from your current school and any other undergraduate institution you have attended
      • A 1-page resume

Applications are now closed.

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