UMass Dartmouth receives $343,070 National Science Foundation grant to support next generation of marine biology researchers

‘Integrative Marine Biology for the 21st Century’ project will support 10 students each summer for three years to conduct research projects with UMass Dartmouth faculty mentors

Nancy Oconnor

UMass Dartmouth has received a $343,070 grant through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site grant program to provide hands-on research opportunities with UMass Dartmouth faculty mentors for undergraduate students interested in marine biology, fisheries oceanography, and estuarine and ocean science.  The “Integrative Marine Biology for the 21st Century” project will support 10 students for 10 weeks during the summers of 2016-2018.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to spark interest and engage the next generation of marine biology researchers,” said UMass Dartmouth Biology Professor Nancy O’Connor, who will oversee the program with the assistance of UMass Dartmouth Biology Associate Professor Tara Rajaniemi. “We are incredibly fortunate to connect students interested in this field with world class faculty mentors and be so close in proximity to immerse these students into the history and culture of the top fishing port in the country.”

Students will be mentored by faculty whose research projects illustrate collaborative, interdisciplinary, and integrative approaches to the study of marine biology, ranging from the genetics of marine organisms to their ecology and behavior, as well as fisheries science and management and coastal ecosystem dynamics. Students will also be introduced to the historical, economic, and cultural contexts of marine biology through visits to the port city of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Weekly workshops will focus on research proposal development, research ethics, and career preparation. Student skills and mindsets regarding conducting and communicating research will be assessed through poster presentations, writing, and surveys. Students will learn how research is conducted and many will present the results of their work at scientific conferences in addition to a poster symposium at the end of the summer. Students will also write about their research for a general audience through poems and blogs.

Nancy OIt is anticipated that a total of 10 students primarily from schools with limited research opportunities will be trained in the program. Applications from first-generation and under-represented minority students at community colleges and liberal arts colleges are strongly encouraged. Student participants will be recruited from schools in southeastern Massachusetts, as well as from a national pool of applicants. 

NSF funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU Sites program. An REU Site consists of a group of ten or so undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where he/she works closely with the faculty and other researchers. The program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program.

UMass Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional economic, social, and cultural development. UMass Dartmouth's mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to engage the community, and apply its knowledge to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all.


College of Arts and Sciences, Research