vonHoldt Lab

Evolutionary Genomics and Ecological Epigenomics

NSF REU Training Site: Computational Biology Research, Gateway to STEM

Summer Research, 5 June - 4 August 2023


This REU Training Site has the mission to support formerly incarcerated undergraduate students in gaining research experience in computational biology, the principles of scientific thinking, and research scholarship.


The program seeks to recruit formerly incarcerated undergraduate students with extensive math coursework and excellent math grade performance who are not majoring in a STEM discipline, favoring early students who either have not yet decided on a major or are still uncertain about their choice. Community college applicants are especially welcome. Eligible applicants include those who have US military service and students over 30 years of age, and all groups that are historically underrepresented in STEM education and employment.


Students accepted into the REU program will be assigned to a participating faculty mentor and join their mentor's research group. In addition to the faculty research mentor, participants will have guidance from a day-to-day mentor in the research group. Each REU is also paired with a near-peer mentor, an early Ph.D. student in a different field with whom to develop a personal relationship and to discuss any topic of interest.

To ensure a cohort experience and collective training, this REU program will host mandatory working lunches where all REUs will gather to discuss general topics of interest including quantitative thinking, the scientific method, research ethics, data analysis and interpretation, graphical analysis, oral and written presentations, and STEM careers and graduate study, as well as contemporary social issues related to science in general or biology in particular. During week 1 of the program, these working lunches will be daily. In each of the subsequent weeks, working lunches will be once per week. Regular meetings of each REU with the faculty mentor and associated team members will discuss methods, experimental design, and research progress.

Students will also attend a seminar series with invited speakers who will present on related topics (e.g., climate change and ecosystems, genome science, diet and nutrition). REU students will be asked to complete background reading prior to each seminar that will be discussed in a lunch meeting with the invited speaker.

REU students are expected to give informal oral reports on their work during the course of the summer. By the end of the program students also will prepare a formal written report on their research and present an oral summary with a slide show (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.).

The program requires full-time commitment (minimum 40 hours/week for 9 weeks) and no additional commitments to jobs, courses, exam reviews, etc.

Financial Support

The program provides a weekly stipend of $600, with disbursement of the final paycheck contingent upon submission of the REU final report from the student. If the program can run in-person, students living on campus will also receive a weekly food allowance of $100 and on-campus house will be covered by the REU. Students have free access to the University's considerable library and computing resources.

Application Process

Please download the application, complete all the required fields, and save as a PDF. Also prepare the additional items needed (proof of US citizenship or permanent US resident card; proof of health insurance; three letters of recommendation).

Application Opens: 9 January 2023
Due Date: 10 February 2023
How to submit: Please submit these materials to Dr. Bridgett vonHoldt (vonholdt@princeton.edu). The email subject line must read: REU APPLICATION MATERIALS for [applicant's name]. Each letter writer must email their letter directly to Dr. vonHoldt with a subject line that must read: RECOMMENDATION LETTER for [applicant's name].

Potential Faculty Mentors

Note: Please do not contact faculty mentors directly. Inquiries should be directed to Sandy Cominski (sc23@princeton.edu)

  • Craig Arnold, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering [website]
  • Timothy Buschman, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience [website]
  • Michael Berry, Neuroscience Institute [website]
  • Lisa Boulanger, Department of Molecular Biology [website]
  • Jason Fleischer, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering [website]
  • Adele Goldberg, Department of Psychology [website]
  • Andrea Graham, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology [website]
  • Sabine Kastner, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience [website]
  • Andrej Kosmrlj, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering [website]
  • Simon Levin, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology [website]
  • Lindy McBride, Departments of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Neuroscience [website]
  • Jessica Metcalf, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology [website]
  • Celeste Nelson, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering [website]
  • Dan Rubenstein, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology [website]
  • Amit Singer, Department of Mathematics [website]
  • Diana Tamir, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience [website]
  • Corina Tarnita, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology [website]
  • Jared Toettcher, Department of Molecular Biology [website]
  • Contact

    For questions about the REU program and application, please email Dr. Bridgett vonHoldt (vonholdt@princeton.edu) or Dr. Jill Stockwell (jfstockw@princeton.edu).

    The faculty members who run this program are:
    Professor Bridgett vonHoldt, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology [website]
    Professor Jannette Carey, Department of Chemistry [website]