Guam EPSCOR is funded by a 5-year, $20 million grant to the University of Guam from the National Science Foundation. The program aims to develop a Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals and Oceans to ensure the sustainability of coral reef ecosystems in the face of environmental change. Guam EPSCoR aims to situate Guam as a premier research and STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education hub bolstering sustainability, economic development, and informed decision-making by engaging communities in 21st-century science.
In addition to its research goals, Guam EPSCoR seeks to increase the number and diversity of students who choose STEM careers by engaging students in its Student Research Experience (SRE) Program. The SRE program is a program open to undergraduate students seeking research opportunities. Student research training and tasks may include field work to investigate coral reefs or to deploy and retrieve oceanographic instruments, as well as work in the University of Guam Marine Laboratory’s Molecular Lab. Selected students will learn about DNA extraction and sequencing and/or how to readout and analyze data to characterize marine environments. Ideal candidates are self-motivated, well organized, and have basic training or experience in lab procedures and microscopy.
The University of Guam and Research Corporation of the University of Guam are Equal Opportunity Employers that have received NSF funding to broaden the participation of underrepresented students in STEM fields. As such, the SRE Program remains open to all qualified students, but women, minorities, and students with disabilities are particularly encouraged to apply.
Program Eligibility and Requirements
- Must be a U.S. citizen and/or permanent resident of Guam
- Undergraduate student in good academic standing (UOG or GCC)
- Must be able to commit 10 hours a week between January 2023 – December 2023. Schedules to be determined with Faculty Mentor.
- STEM Students preferred, ALL Students welcome.
- Research Experience and Training
- Faculty/Researcher Mentoring
- Near-Peer Mentorship
- $6000 stipend ($500 monthly)
- National STEM Conferences
- Potential Travel Opportunities
Guam EPSCoR is seeking to fill six (6) Undergraduate Student Research Experience positions!
Undergraduate students that meet the eligibility requirements and have an interest in EPSCoR Research should apply following the steps below:
- Educate yourself about NSF EPSCoR GECCO. Please ensure you meet the eligibility requirements.
- Apply to be in the EPSCoR GECCO Student Research Experience!
- Complete the online form linked below.
- Submit documentation to email@example.com
- Unofficial transcripts
- Any supplemental documentation, i.e. resume or CV
- All email submissions should have a clear subject line:
- Example: “NSF EPSCoR GECCO SRE Application Documents – Last Name, First Name”
- Application Opens: October 1, 2023
- Applications Close: November 8, 2023
- Selection Notification: November 22, 2023*
- Program dates: January to December 2024
*Upon notification of acceptance, applicants will have 1 week to confirm acceptance.
For more information, contact:
For specific questions regarding programming or research experience, please contact:
Emily Wendte, EPSCoR GECCO Education and Workforce Development Program Associate
Tropical coral reefs are under many threats due to a rapidly changing climate that affects reef health.
SRE students will have opportunities that include tank experiments and field work to study coral health and resilience to environmental stress. As part of EPSCoR project, we describe the biological and physical characteristics of Guam’s coastal ocean.
To understand near-shore dynamics of our oceans, students may be involved in deploying and retrieving oceanographic instruments, and analyzing data to characterize our near-shore environments.
Genetic variation among individuals may affect the response of corals to the thermal stress posed by increasing sea surface temperatures. There will be opportunities to learn the genetic methods employed to study the response of corals to environmental change and use genetic barcoding for species identification to help elucidate Guam’s coral diversity.
Depending on student interest, training in molecular laboratory skills, including DNA extractions, polymerase-chain reaction, gel electrophoresis, DNA sequencing and analyses may be part of the internship.
Lastly, students may contribute to the EPSCoR Biorepository, a growing collection of Guam’s biodiversity to support research, as curatorial assistants. Specimens collected by students will be integrated into the collections, including tissue preservation, photographic documentation, data base utilization and maintenance of collections.
EPSCoR Faculty Mentors and Research
Interested applicants may indicate a preference for advisors and research areas. While preference will be considered in the application process, students will be assigned to an advisor. EPSCoR Mentors will work with students to develop a research project that aligns with student interests!
Advisor: Christopher Lobban, Ph.D.
Advisor: Heloise Rouze, Ph.D.
Microbiome communities of the emerging coral model systems will be characterized along environmental gradients to infer microbiome diversity and function. Reciprocal transplant experiments will be used to test how flexible the microbiomes are in adapting to local conditions and their role in coral health. Combining detailed environmental characterizations of micro-habitats with genomic characterizations of coral microbiome communities will allow insights into the role of microbiomes in coral resilience.
Advisor: Ciemon Caballes, Ph.D.
Functional physiological traits of corals will be investigated in controlled lab and field experiments to understand their role in coral health and resilience. For example, the modulating effects of water flow on coral gene expression, symbiont photophysiology, and harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and build-up in coral tissues will be studied to quantify the effect of habitat on the coral response to stress. Our aim is to identify the environmental drivers that modulate differences in coral host and symbiont resilience to elevated rising sea surface temperatures.
Advisor: Robert Lasley, Ph.D.
Despite hundreds of years of exploration, most of the world’s marine invertebrate fauna remains unknown. For many groups of organisms, even the most fundamental knowledge—i.e., “what is it?”—has not been studied. Documenting this baseline data is imperative, especially given the current biodiversity crisis. We focus on discovering, documenting, and disseminating data on Guam’s diverse crustacean fauna. We do field collections, curation, and biodiversity research. Students will conduct field surveys (SCUBA, intertidal, snorkel, etc.) to build a list of crustaceans in Guam and/or conduct taxonomic, phylogenetic, or biogeographic research on their favorite marine species.
Advisor: Diego Vaz, Ph.D.
Fishes are the most diverse group of vertebrate animals, accounting for more than 35 thousand species, more than half of all vertebrate diversity. Fishes are present in almost every aquatic environment and display a wide variety of adaptations that enabled them to explore almost every niche available. Recognizing which morphological features allow adaptation of a species to a particular location is an essential task to infer how these organisms can react to a constantly changing environment, particularly caused by climate change. The understanding of morphological variation also enables inferences on evolutionary relationships among different groups of fish, the identification of current fish diversity, and the recognition of new species to science. Students will learn and use multiple techniques, from manual dissections to high technological computed tomography (CT-scan), to investigate these multiple morphological aspects of coral-reef fishes. Students will also have the opportunity to learn and use genetic tools to complement their investigations.
Near Peer Mentorship
EPSCoR SRE’s will participate in near-peer mentorship programs that place like-minded people pursuing STEM Research in positions to mentor each other and benefit from growth opportunities. You will share experiences with NSF SEAS Island Alliance INCLUDES and EPSCoR students of all levels; high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.
You will never be or feel alone! If you have questions, you can ask a graduate student who has done what you are doing! EPSCoR prides itself on building a supportive and diverse STEM community!
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Student researchers are expected to present research at STEM Conferences! Students will have the opportunity to network with like-minded people! EPSCoR also encourages students become involved in sustainability!