Ocean Science Education Abroad at BIOS

Gillian Palino, a 2018 BIOS REU student, works in the Microbial Ecology Laboratory on a long-term research project studying the microbial communities in Devil’s Hole, Bermuda—an area that undergoes a decrease in dissolved oxygen in deeper waters during the late summer and fall.

Beginning late August 2019, a select group of undergraduate students will embark on a new adventure in their education: a semester at BIOS as part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Initiated by NSF in 1958, the competitive program gives students the opportunity to participate in ongoing research programs or independent research projects in a wide range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Some of this year’s potential research projects at BIOS will allow students to: determine how the physical ocean shapes net community productivity and the strength of the biological carbon pump; assess biodiversity and ecosystem function on mesophotic reefs; characterize the optical properties of water for ecology and remote sensing; and employ environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor biodiversity responses to natural and anthropogenic change.

Eligible students must be U.S. citizens or permanent resident cardholders who have completed at least one year of undergraduate study. Underrepresented groups and students attending colleges or universities with limited STEM research opportunities are encouraged to apply. Successful candidates receive return airfare, room and board at BIOS, and a competitive stipend. Throughout the semester, in addition to their research, students participate in a variety of field excursions around Bermuda and attend scientific workshops and seminars given by BIOS faculty and staff.

In 2018, REU student Rebecca Ju worked in the BIOS mesocosm facility investigating the comparative thermal tolerances among several coral species from both shallow and deep reefs.

Many REU students have used their experiences at BIOS as a platform for advancement in their education, translating their research into peer-reviewed scientific publications, conference presentations, and senior-level thesis projects. Here is what some of the recent BIOS REUs have said about their experiences:

“The NSF REU program at BIOS was one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve ever had. It really opened my eyes to the world of scientific research. The staff and mentors were amazing, the location is absolutely beautiful, and I was greatly impressed by the level of support and interest in the students’ projects.” Adriana Formby-Fernandez REU 2018

“I would completely recommend the REU program at BIOS to any student considering a career in scientific research. I came into the program hoping to gain an understanding of the research process. Because of my time at BIOS, I’m no longer intimidated by what graduate programs require of their students.” Cothram Harris REU 2016

“During my semester at BIOS I had the opportunity to focus on my own research, deepening my expertise in a specific field, as well as the chance to widen my knowledge of the other research taking place. If I was willing to try something new, there was always someone there to teach me how to do it. My time as an REU student definitely helped me figure out where I want my career to go and it gave me the skills I need to get there.” Rebecca Ju REU 2018

Alex Lundberg, a 2017 BIOS REU student, weighs lionfish eggs in the lab as part of his research into the most effective method for monitoring the impacts of these invasive predators on the deep-water communities of Bermuda.

For more information, a full list of potential research projects, and the online application, please visit http://www.bios.edu/education/reu/. Completed applications, including resume, current transcripts, and two letters of recommendation must be submitted to BIOS by Friday, May 31. 

Funding for this REU site is provided by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences, located in Arlington, VA. Award number OCE-1757475. The NSF contact for this program is Elizabeth Rom. NSF does not handle REU applications; please contact each REU site directly for application information.