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Undergraduate Research Experience for CU students (URE)

Program Organizer
Tory Hendry, Microbiology


Goals and Overview

The CIHMID Undergraduate Research Experience Program aims to create research opportunities to undergraduate students interested in pursuing independent projects in the area of host-microbe interactions.  In addition to research in a CIHMID lab, the program includes elements of structured mentoring and professional development in a cohesive and interactive undergraduate research community.

During the academic year, students will engage in mentored research in the laboratory of a CIHMID faculty member (potential host labs and their associated research themes can be found on our PEOPLE page by selecting the Potential Undergraduate Mentor filter) and participate in a mandatory professional development course.  Students involved in the program during the academic year will be encouraged to apply for a CIHMID-sponsored stipend to conduct research in their host labs during ten weeks of summer.  Program participants will present their research findings at the end of the academic year or the end of the summer program.


Program Structure

Academic Year

Each student will work in a CIHMID laboratory under the guidance of faculty advisor, and may work closely with a graduate student or postdoctoral mentor in the lab.  During the academic year, students participating in the program may do so for research credit, wage paid by the host laboratory, or on a volunteer basis.  Students wishing to perform research for credit should do so in accordance with the Cornell standard of 1 credit per 3 hours of research and should enroll in BioG 4990 or an analogous course within the appropriate major.  Research credits must be approved by the faculty mentor in advance of registration.

Professional development activities will be offered during the spring semester through a mandatory course BioMi 3990 “Professional skills for host-microbe interactions research” (syllabus below).

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   The goal of the course is to introduce students interested in research on host-microbe interactions to professional skills needed to successfully complete research projects and apply to graduate school.  Course activities will address principles of the scientific method, research ethics, electronic database literacy, science citation software, science communication as well as planning for graduate study, including preparation of curriculum vitae and personal statement.  In addition, the course will offer guidance in formulating and writing a research proposal and preparation for the summer program.


Students will be encouraged to continue research in their host labs over the summer. Students who are in good standing during the academic year program may apply for a CHIMID summer stipend to be paid at $12.50/hr for 30-40 hours per week over a period of 10 weeks.  Additional wage or hours may be supplemented by the host lab.  Summer students are expected to present their research at the CIHMID Summer Symposium and/or Summer Program Poster Session.

Starting in the summer of 2020 CIHMID URE fellows will participate in the Engaged Cornell Research program “Digital Science Literacy about the Microbial World”. For a portion of their time during the summer, the fellows will practice advanced skills in scientific digital literacy and learn to improve the accuracy of Wikipedia articles related to host-microbe interactions and disease. The fellows will then train regional high school students in critical evaluation of online sources and host edit-a-thons to improve Wikipedia entries.”

Recruitment and Selection

The program will be advertised on the CIHMID website, through Cornell’s Office of Undergraduate Biology, through relevant non-Biology undergraduate majors, and through the Biology Scholars Program. Potential host labs and mentors must be a part of CIHMID (see PEOPLE page), and students are welcome to develop their own independent projects with CIHMID faculty.

Students in their sophomore and junior years are eligible to apply.  Previous formal research experience is not required, although preference may be given based on experience.

Application for the academic year program will require submission of a personal statement describing student’s research interests, relevant coursework, prior research experience, and how participation in the CIHMID URE program fits into student’s future academic and professional plans.  Students will be asked to identify 3-5 potential host labs.  Applications may be submitted here. The program organizers will select students from the applicant pool and forward these applications to mentors.  Mentors will meet with potential students and will work with the program organizers to match up students and mentors.

The program will accept applications for Fall 2022 later in the spring.

Applications to the summer program will take place in the spring semester and will be available to students who have been in good standing in the program throughout the academic year.  Summer applications will consist of a two-page proposal detailing an independent research project that the student will conduct in the host lab.  This proposal should provide context for the research question and should summarize any previous research that the student has done.  Program organizers will select participants for the competitive summer opportunity, with preference given to students who have not previously been awarded CIHMID summer support.  The application details for the summer program will be discussed during the BioMI 3990 course in the academic year.

Questions should be directed to Dr. Tory Hendry (

Coming soon…Past URE Participants