Tullman-Ercek Subproject: Participant Support Costs for REU Site: Synthetic Biology at Northwestern: From Molecules to Society (SynBREU2.0)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview: Project Elements New REU Site, or renewal?: Renewal of DBI-1757973 Project Title: REU Site: Synthetic Biology at Northwestern: From Molecules to Society (SynBREU2.0) Principal Investigator: Danielle Tullman-Ercek Submitting Organization: Northwestern University Other organizations Involved in the project’s operation: None Locations at which proposed undergraduate research will occur: Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois; Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois Main field(s) and sub-field(s) of the research: synthetic biology, biotechnology, quantitative biology, bioengineering, biosciences No. of undergraduate participants per year: Ten Summer or academic year REU site?: Summer REU site No. of weeks per year that students will participate: Ten Does the project include and international or RET component?: No Name, phone number, and e-mail address of point-of-contact for student applicants: Danielle Tullman-Ercek, 847-491-7043, ercek@northwestern.edu Web address (URL) for information about the REU Site: http://synbreu.northwestern.edu Intellectual Merit: This REU Site will focus on exposing undergraduate students to research in synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing field in which new biological systems are constructed using engineering principles such as design-build-test-evaluate cycles. Northwestern University has a strong cohort of faculty working at the forefront of synthetic biology, and developed a method for training students to systematically deconstruct synthetic biology problems by examining the interfaces of the various scales (molecules, cells, organisms, communities) and identify approaches to successfully retain function across such interfaces. The participating students will carry out an independent synthetic biology research project using this scales approach. Concurrently, students will participate in a carefully designed curriculum to expose them to a variety of laboratory techniques as well as the skills necessary for success in their future STEM careers, including communication and networking. Activities include seminars, workshops, teas with faculty, and field trips to local synthetic biology companies. Upon completion of the program, students will have insight into how to investigate fundamental biological processes and design biological systems to function upon integration in their final context; acquire core skills in communication and networking to work with scientists and non-scientists alike; and develop an understanding of the ethical implications of engineering biology as well as its potential to advance society. Broader Impacts: By introducing undergraduate students to research in synthetic biology and resources to develop professional skills, they will be well-prepared for successful science careers. Importantly, this REU Site will recruit from local and national colleges without graduate research programs, and regional and national organizations that support predominantly underrepresented minorities, to increase the exposure of these groups to research and science careers. Continued mentoring after the program will be available to those students wishing to pursue additional activities in synthetic biology or science research. Students will be encouraged to present their work at their home institutions to disseminate the work and expose additional students to research. Standard and tailored assessments will be used to continually refine the activities to achieve program goals. Keywords: synthetic biology, biotechnology, engineering biology,
Effective start/end date4/1/223/31/25


  • National Science Foundation (DBI-2150269)


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