2024 Summer PreMiEr Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)

Key Information

Who: Current K-12 or community college teachers
When: June 17th – July 19th, 2024
Where: Either Duke University, N.C. A&T University, or the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Application due date: April 1st, 2023
Application link: https://etap.nsf.gov/award/740/opportunity/8945

The NSF Engineering Research Center for Precision Microbiome Engineering (PreMiEr) is pleased to announce and seek applicants for its summer 2024 Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program.

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 participating institutions (Duke, NC A&T University, or 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 age-appropriate lesson plans based on PreMiEr research and their experiences.


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. PreMiEr projects focus on different aspects of this grand challenge including measuring, modifying, and modeling microbiomes. K-12 and community college teachers in proximity to our participants institutions, particularly from STEM fields, are encouraged to apply.

Program Description

After an initial online bootcamp, teachers in the RET program will spend the remainder of the 5 week program working either hybrid or in a specific laboratory of their host campus depending on the nature of the work. Participants will be invited to partake in laboratory research and attend lectures and workshops on curriculum development and other topics based on PreMiEr research and activities. The main output of the participant will be lesson plans based on their experience that are age-appropriate for the grades they normally instruct, and that those lesson plans will be made available to the general public at the end of their summer experience. Teachers are encouraged to keep in contact with their mentors for future engagement with their classes.

Applicants must be located in proximity to one of the following institutions or be able to commute to these campuses: Duke University (Durham, NC), North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (Greensboro, NC), or The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, NC).

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 and meals are 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 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 17th to July 19th.

Application Process

Applicants are required to be US citizens or permanent residents who are currently employed as a K-12 or community college teacher. 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, 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
      • (Optional) An example lesson plan

Applications are being accepted now until April 1st, 2024.

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

Interested applicants can apply through the NSF ETAP portal using the link above.