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The Mass Media

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) sites to provide hands-on experience in research. Students work closely with a faculty advisor on a specific research topic, receive a stipend, and can receive assistance with housing and travel.

The goals of this program are to “expand student participation in all kinds of research – whether disciplinary, interdisciplinary, or educational in focus – encompassing efforts by individual investigators, groups, centers, national facilities, and others.” In addition the NSF asserts that the REU program “seeks to attract a diversified pool of talented students into careers in science and engineering and to help ensure that they receive the best education possible.”

UMass Boston is fortunate to be home to two REU programs. The first, and more senior program is hosted by the Biology Department. The program runs from June 3rd to August 8, and students receive a $3,500 stipend. Some flexibility in the program dates is allowed, with advance notice.

Students have a wide range of research topics available to study within the department including: biodiversity, neuropharmacology, molecular evolution, cell signaling and transport, transcription systems, host defense systems, and community structure. Students will “design, conduct, and present an independent research project” with their advisor.

In addition, students will meet weekly to discuss research related topics and partake in activities that will improve students’ molecular techniques and computer DNA sequence tools. Students also participate in a canoeing trip, a hiking trip, and a three-day retreat to the Nantucket Field Station.

In order to be eligible for the REU program in the Biology Department, students must be enrolled in their Junior or Senior Year by the Fall of 2003. In addition they must have completed at least one upper-level biology course and mathematics through college algebra. The application consists of 1) a resume, 2) a letter describing your background and career goals, 3) current undergraduate transcripts, and 4) 2 letters of recommendation from faculty members. Applications are due March 10, 2003. For more information visit the web site http://www.bio.umb.edu/Programs/SpecialPrograms/REU-SUM03.htm.

The second REU program at UMass Boston, premiering this summer, is in Archaeobiology at Sylvestor Manor. This program has received funding from both the NSF and Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research, and will be running for the “summers of 2003, ’04, and ’05,” according to director Dr. David Landon of the Anthropology Department.

This ten-week program takes place from May 26 to August 1, with flexibility around the start date depending on school schedules, and a $300/week stipend. Four of these weeks will be devoted toward archeological excavation at Sylvester Manor, Shelter Island, New York. “Sylvester Manor is a 250 acre site with extensive archaeological remains of a Late Woodland (pre-contact) Native American settlement, and a 1652-1735 agricultural plantation established to ship provisions to the Caribbean.” UMass Boston has been working at the site for five years with the research goals of “[understanding] the patterns of cultural interaction and cultural change among the diverse groups on the plantation, and to reconstruct land use and landscape change through time.”

The archaeobiological data, including bone fragments and macrobotanicals will be analyzed within the laboratory during the remaining six weeks. Five different laboratories in the Anthropology department will be used including a processing laboratory, a paleoethnobotany laboratory, and a zooarchaeology laboratory.

Students entering their junior or senior years with a B average or better are eligble to apply. Applicants will need a letter of reference from a faculty member, transcripts, and a statement of interest. Application deadline is April 4, 2003. For more information visit the web site: http://www.fiskecenter.umb.edu/reu.html.

REU programs are available in other fields including: astronomical sciences, atmospheric sciences, chemistry, computer and information science and engineering, earth sciences, education and human resources, engineering, international science and engineering, materials research, mathematical sciences, ocean sciences, physics, polar programs, and social/behavioral/economic sciences.

Within Massachusetts MIT, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association have REU programs in Astronomical Sciences. The Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole, UMB, Harvard, Massachusetts Bay Community College, BU, UMass Amherst, and Wellesley College have REU programs in Biological Sciences. Wellesley College has an REU program in Chemistry. Harvard, MIT, and UMass Amherst have programs in Material Sciences. Mount Holyoke College, Williams College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute have programs in Math. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has a program in Ocean sciences. Northeastern University has a program in Physics. Finally, UMB has a program in social/behavioral/economic sciences. For more information on other programs please visit NSF’s web site: http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm