Undergraduate Research and Mentoring (URM)

An overview of UNO's URM program

Student on a boatUNO and SUNO received a grant from the National Science Foundation's URM program. This is an undergraduate research program designed to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in research in biological sciences. Three students from UNO and one from SUNO will be selected to participate.

The research expertise of our mentors includes conservation genetics, ecology, phylogenetic systematics, physiological and evolutionary ecology, molecular physiology, molecular biology, microbiology and biochemistry.

What are the goals of the UNO URM program?

  • To expose students to a broad range of approaches to biological sciences research
  • To offer a range of different faculty role models that can be matched to meet student needs and interests.
  • To provide a structured program beginning with general training in research methods, followed by hands-on research ultimately culminating in the presentation of research results
  • To provide a tiered mentoring process involving faculty, graduate students, former UMEB students (students participated in a similar program at UNO that ended in 2009) and URM students from previous cohorts, as well as established scientists from under-represented groups.

The learning experience

ButterflyThe student learning experience will include courses, informal seminars, and research to expose students to a broad range of possible research experiences, role models, and approaches to doing research in the biological sciences.

Courses and Seminars

A first year introductory seminar given by URM mentors to introduce students to the research currently underway in the URM mentors' laboratories.

Research Tools course designed to provide basic skills necessary for any research experience. Students will take this course in the spring. Topics will include basic ecological methods (taught as a field experience) and basic molecular techniques (taught as a lab experience).

Weekly group meetings with URM advisors, graduate students and undergraduate researchers.


During the first summer and second year of the program, students will become directly involved in an independent research project with a mentor. Students will actively participate in a research project, including data collection, analysis, and presentation.

Research Students who join the URM program will be able to develop their careers in the biological sciences. Through the development of their careers these students should have a positive impact in biological sciences research and also future students. The ultimate goal of the program is to prepare students for graduate school.

Smiling Student Who should apply?

UNO students in their freshmen or sophomore year who are majors in Biology are encouraged to apply to this program. Students must have completed one Biology course with a lab (for majors) before they enter the URM program. The goal of this program is to increase the participation of racial and ethnic groups under-represented in science (Native Americans, African Americans, Native Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics).

Student Stipends

Student participants will be awarded a $15,000 / year stipend for actively participating in the URM program.

When and how should students apply?

Interested students should contact Dr. Wendy Schluchter for an application form:

Dr. Wendy Schluchter
Office: Biology Building, room 232
Email: wschluch@uno.edu
Office phone number: (504) 280-7194

Department of Biological Sciences
Phone : (504) 280-6308


The following faculty members are mentor participants in the UNO/SUNO URM program:

  • Nicola Anthony (UNO) - Evolutionary and conservation genetics.

  • Charles Bell (UNO) - Phylogenetic systematics & biogeography of plants.

  • Phil DeVries (UNO) - Insect diversity, ecology, evolution

  • Jerome Howard (UNO) - Behavioral and evolutionary ecology, with a focus on insects and on endangered or threatened species

  • Steve Johnson (UNO) - Conservation genetics; evolutionary ecology; evolution of sex; host-parasite interactions

  • Zhengchang Liu (UNO) - Signal transduction pathways in yeast

  • Carla Penz (UNO) - Systematics and natural history of butterflies

  • Bernard B. Rees (UNO) - Physiology and biochemistry of aquatic organisms

  • Simon Lailvaux (UNO) - Sexual selection and mating system evolution

  • Wendy Schluchter (UNO) - Cyanobacterial photosynthesis; Development of fluorescent biotechnological tools

  • Illya Tietzel (SUNO) - Microbiology, immunology and molecular biology