In 1991, a group of undergraduate students arrived in Bermuda to spend a semester with BIOS faculty and staff who mentored their independent marine science research projects. The program, known as Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or REU, was designed to provide a semester-long, rigorous research experience enhanced by field trips on land and at sea. Since then, nearly 200 university students have participated on a variety of projects, with themes ranging from climate change to coral reef ecology. Their work culminates in a final, formal presentation to BIOS faculty and staff.
Program alumni have reported that their time at BIOS has helped them to gain experience in presenting their research at scientific meetings, sharpening their career plans, and strengthening their applications to graduate school, said BIOS researcher Rachel Parsons, who has mentored or co-mentored 15 REU students since her involvement in 2005.
This past fall’s group of eight students (shown here with their mentors and additional students participating in other BIOS programs) became the 25th class of REU students to participate in the National Science Foundation-funded program. For Cothran Harris, 21, a senior at North Carolina State University, the 2016 fall semester at BIOS was a confidence-building opportunity.
“I came into the program without much research experience, and I was slightly intimidated by the thought of research,” wrote Harris in his evaluation of the program. “My time at BIOS reversed that. I came to enjoy my research and was completely satisfied with my results. Because of my time at BIOS, I am no longer intimidated by what graduate programs require from their students.”