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Summer Undergraduate Agricultural Biotechnology Research Experience

Applications are due by March 1 and participants will be selected by March 8. The program will run June 2 through August 13, 2021.

Are you interested in biological/agricultural research? Are you looking for an enriching and potentially life-changing experience this summer? If so, the Summer Undergraduate Agricultural Biotechnology Research Experience (SURE) program at Utah State University may be perfect for you.

Research Opportunities

Biotechnology is an exciting field of work with many fascinating career opportunities. With biotechnology you can:

  • Create better varieties of crops
  • Develop new biofuels
  • Create animal models to study human disease
  • Improve nutrition and health
  • Many other exciting possibilities

At Utah State University, researchers are working on these and many other projects.

The SURE program at USU is a 10-week program that will place you in a research laboratory with a faculty mentor where you will gain first-hand experience in scientific research. You will work on a real research project where you will learn laboratory techniques, how to interpret data, how to apply scientific principles to answer questions, and how to present your data to others. In addition to the lab experience, there will be weekly seminars to teach skills relevant to scientific research such as lab safety, science communication, research ethics, critical reading of scientific publications, potential careers in agricultural research and biotechnology, and data management.

On-campus housing is provided where you will live with other participants in the program who share common interests. You will also work daily with professional researchers and graduate students. There will be occasional recreational and educational field trips. Participants will also receive a $4100 stipend for the summer.

The SURE program is for students who come from institutions where there is little or no opportunity to gain research experience. We currently have recruiting collaborators at USU Eastern-Blanding, USU Eastern-Price, Snow College, Dine College, Salt Lake Community College, and College of Southern Idaho. If you are at one of these institutions and do not know who is your recruiting collaborator, email Dr. Aaron Thomas ( to find out. If you come from another institution and wish to apply, email Dr. Thomas to discuss your eligibility.

Participants will be selected based on academic achievement, career goals, and scientific interest


To apply, you will need:

  1. A list of faculty with whom you would like to work. Look at the table below and select a few individuals who are doing work that looks interesting to you.
  2. An essay describing your interest the program (suggested length: 2-3 pages). Include the following points:
    • (1) Classes you have taken that are relevant to this program. How did those classes affect your interest in research?
    • (2) Your academic interests. What fields of research or science interest you the most, and why?
    • (3) What are your career goals and how will this program aid your progress toward those goals?
    • (4) Anything else describing your interest in the program.
    If you wish to work with someone not on the list, please also include in your essay an explanation of why you want to work with that individual.
  3. A letter of recommendation from a faculty member at your institution. This letter should be emailed to with your name and “SURE letter of recommendation” in the subject line.
  4. A current transcript or other document showing the classes you have taken and the grades received.
Apply Now

Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Fernanda Batistel Ruminant nutrition
Abby Benninghoff Toxicology, cancer and gene regulation
Chris Davies Immunogenetics and reproductive immunology
Clay Isom Genomics and epigenomics of early embryo development
Young-Min Lee Virology and vaccine development
Jeff Mason Reproductive aging and orthopedic disease
Ralph Meyer Envirotnmental reproductive toxicology
Mirella Meyer-Ficca Envirtonmental toxicology, offspring health & reproductive potential
Irina Polejaeva Large animal transgenic models, animal cloning
Heloisa Rutigliano Immunogenetics and reproductive immunology
Kara Thornton-Kurth Nutrition and growth physiology
Zhongde Wang Genome engineering, epigenetics an stem cells

Plants, Soils, and Climate

John Carman Molecular biology of plant reproduction
Rakesh Kaundal Bioinformatics
Amita Kaundal Tannins in plant species
Jennifer MacAdam Plant stress response
Jeanette Norton Soil microbiology and molecular ecology
Youping Sun Water conservation in landscaping

Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science

Clara Cho Metabolism, obesity, metabolic syndrome
Korry Hintze Nutrition and chronic disease
Silvana Martini Sensory characteristics of foods
Robert Ward Food chemistry and bioactive nutrients

Biological Engineering

David Britt Nanoparticle interactions with beneficial microbes and plants for agricultural applications


Shaun Bushman Stress tolerance in rangeland grasses
Diana Cox-Foster Pollinating insect biology
Zane Davis Plant toxicology
Steven Larson Plant genetic diversity and gene discovery