From 2011 to 2015, the National Science Foundation supported an Undergraduate Research Mentoring program at the Institute of Neurobiology. As the NSF eliminated URM programs in 2014, we are currently exploring alternative mechanisms for supporting undergraduate research. Interested students should check periodically for updates.
URM Program Description: Neural Circuits and Behavior
Program Director: Dr. Mark W. Miller
Associate Director: Dr. Manuel Díaz-Ríos
Each year, for the first four years of the project, four students will be recruited to participate in the program, and the students will be provided NSF support for a period of two years. Over the five-year period of the grant, a total of sixteen students will participate in the program. Students from groups that are under-represented in neurobiology will be recruited following their second year of undergraduate study. Existing local networking mechanisms will be utilized to identify students from universities throughout Puerto Rico. Students will be engaged in on-going faculty research programs on a year-round basis, with the objective of getting students to present and/or publish their work.
The areas of research cover a broad range of topics, but are unified by the interdisciplinary goal of neurobiology to increase our understanding of nervous system structure and function. Each program investigator has considerable mentoring experience, and the structure of faculty research programs enable undergraduate students to become rapidly involved in publication-quality research. The program mentoring strategy consists of personalized hands-on technical guidance that exposes students to state-of-the-art physiological, molecular and imaging approaches and equipment.
Students are mentored in the scientific method, learning how to formulate hypotheses that are testable and appropriate to the questions they wish to answer. They are involved in all aspects of the research effort, including design of experiments, data collection, analysis, and communication of results. The importance of trust, cooperation, and teamwork within the laboratory culture is emphasized throughout the student’s training. This individual mentoring experience is integrated within a highly interactive group setting that conveys and instills the excitement and enthusiasm of scientific exploration.