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Summer Research Experiences

Summer Research Experiences at NIMBioS (2009-2020) provided undergrads in math, biology and related fields the opportunity to conduct research in teams with UT professors, NIMBioS researchers, and collaborators on projects at the interface of math and biology. During this eight-week summer program, participants lived on the UT-Knoxville campus and worked in collaborative teams on a variety of biological research projects using mathematical methods. The topics changed each year and covered a range of life science areas including disease and health, evolution, ecology, molecular biology and more. Students received a stipend, apartment-style housing, travel support to Knoxville, and more.

SRE/REU participants have gone on to do amazing things, from publishing their research in academic journals, to winning competitions with their research, to pursuing doctoral studies at the interface of math and biology.

Follow the links below for information about each year's program, including project descriptions and interviews with participants.

Past Programs: 2020  2019  2018  2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009 

SRE 2020 was our final SRE program, as NIMBioS' NSF funding period ends on February 28, 2021. We greatly appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication that both participants and mentors have brought to the program over the years.

About the Program

  • Opportunities: Work with world-class researchers, do original research, and present your results at a professional conference and in academic publications.
  • Skill-building and Career-Oriented: Workshops are provided to build all participants' skills in mathematical modelling and software such as R and/or Matlab as well as sessions on careers, graduate school, and media training.
  • Teamwork: Bring all your skills for working in a team – students with different areas of expertise, experience and cultural backgrounds will work together and collaboration is key.
  • Full-time: As an internship, participants are expected to put in 40 hours a week of effort and be available to work with their team members every day. Exceptions must be approved in advance.
  • Challenging: Focus, dedication, positive attitude and good humor are expected of all participants to ensure a rewarding experience for all.
  • Fun: Read all about it  from our past participants. Besides enjoying working with an enthusiastic group, social activities will include dinner parties, picnics and trips to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

In Their Own Words:

A. Westhoek photo.

"I can say that the SRE experience has greatly contributed to a successful application and start at the University of Oxford."

—2012 alumna Annet Westhoek

Westhoek went on to pursue her Ph.D. in Systems Biology at the University of Oxford where she models the interactions between legumes and their nitrogen-fixing symbionts.

R. Yan photo.

"NIMBioS is an incredible place to work, especially as an undergraduate. The mentors put a lot of trust in you, and with it, a lot of responsibility. As a young researcher, there's truly no better way to become immersed in your field than in a place like NIMBioS."

—2015 alumnus Ryan Yan

Yan's SRE team created a mapping tool call ComFlo to visualize domestic transport of commodities in the U.S in order to help track the potential spread of invasive species via shipping routes. The team won a travel grant and invitation to attend the NatureServe EcoInformatics Workshop in Washington, DC.

W. Handagama photo.

"Meeting all of the participants was one of the more fun parts: forming relationships with people from all around the world who have similar interests and ideas, but remarkably different views of the world is indescribable."

—2014 alumnus Winode Handagama

Research from Handagama's SRE team was published in Frontiers in Microbiology. "Quantifying limits on replication, death, and quiescence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in mice" investigates the limits of the rates of bacterial replication, death, and quiescence during Mtb infection in mice.

More Resources

For further information about the program, please contact Suzanne Lenhart, Associate Director for Education and Outreach, NIMBioS (Email:

1122 Volunteer Blvd., Suite 106
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-3410
PH: (865) 974-9334
FAX: (865) 974-9461
Contact NIMBioS

From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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