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Research Exchange Funds    |    Undergraduate Internships    |    Symposium Attendance Funds


EDEN is no longer offering Undergraduate Internships.

Announcement date: 15 December, 2015.


Students and researchers based at non-US institutions ARE ELIGIBLE to apply for EDEN funding to perform research exchanges or internships in US labs. This is effective as of March 5, 2012.

Undergraduate Training Opportunities in Emerging Model Organisms

Are you an undergraduate student interested in gaining research experience? Would you like to find out what it is like to work in a lab-based or field-based research environment? Are you interested in what happens when you combine evolution with development, ecology with genetics, or lab work and field work? Are you unsure how to find opportunities like this? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then EDEN’s Undergraduate Internship Program is for you! You may have heard of fruit fly genetics, forest ecology, or biomedical research using mice as model organisms. But did you know that there are labs studying the evolution and function of butterfly wing patterns, the genetic basis of different flowers shapes and colors, and African fish behavior and how it relates to genome structure? The growing fields of evolutionary ecological and developmental biology, often known as Evo-Devo-Eco, use both classical and cutting-edge techniques to study less traditional organisms, including sponges, finches, columbines, dung beetles, lizards and snails! The EDEN Undergraduate Training Program can give you the opportunity for a summer research internship in a lab studying such a new or emerging model organism.

Goals of the Program

EDEN aims to train undergraduates in the field of Evo-Devo-Eco, with an emphasis on emerging model systems. Much undergraduate training in biology is based on textbooks that emphasize the contributions of traditional model organisms to our understanding of the natural world. Given the crucial role of such models in the history and progress of science, this focus is both inevitable and important. However, it is equally important that the next generation of scientists be made aware of the increasing contributions of models that emerge at the frontiers of the dynamic fields encompassed by Evo-Devo-Eco. EDEN offers you the opportunity to do research in laboratories working on such models, giving you the option to broaden the scope of your future research choices. EDEN’s ultimate goal with this program is to enable effective and interdisciplinary training of budding scientists in performing research on emerging model systems.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligible students should be undergraduates of any nationality at any college or university, including liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and universities, both within and outside of the U.S.. Eligible host labs should be conducting research using new and emerging model organism and must be at a U.S.-based instituition. If the proposed host lab is working on a well-established model organism, your application must explain how the techniques or skills that you learn in the host lab will be applied to work on new or emerging model organisms at your home institution.

Students may apply to work in a lab that is at their home institution, as long as the proposed reserach involves new and emerging model organisms. However, in cases where all other aspects of applications are considered to be equally competitive, preference will be given to applicants who propose to travel to a lab that is not at their home institution.

We strongly encourage you to contact EDEN (edenrcn@fas.harvard.edu) to confirm that your proposal and proposed host lab meet these criteria.

Host labs can be at any US institution, including liberal arts colleges, universities, and research institutes, as long as the host lab has the necessary infrastructure to support the proposed project. Host labs can be chosen from the list of participating labs, or students can make their own arrangements with prospective labs. For assistance in finding a suitable lab, click here. EDEN is committed to supporting all undergraduate students for this training program, including students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the sciences, and students from low-income backgrounds.

It is NOT a requirement that applicants for EDEN funding, or hosts of EDEN-funded students, be listed as EDEN Participating Labs. If you are applying for an EDEN undergraduate internship, you can propose to work with any lab in the US. However, please encourage your host lab PI to add their details to the EDEN Participating Labs database by completing this brief survey.

Terms and Conditions

Each year, EDEN will award eight ten-week undergraduate research internships. Each award consists of a $4000 stipend per student, and need-based travel assistance of up to $1000 per student. Exact amounts of travel allowances will be determined on a case by case basis. Students are expected to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements with the help of the host lab. One month after completion of the research internship, students will submit a short report describing their research experience, as well as an evaluation of their internship experience.

Deadlines for Applications

Applications will be due on March 11th of each year, beginning in 2011 and ending in 2015. Award decisions will be made and communicated to applicants by approximately four weeks after the application deadline (any significant changes to the notification date will be communicated to applicants via email). In years when the application due date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, applications will be accepted until midnight (EST) of the Monday following the deadline date.

Guidelines for Finding a Lab

Host labs can be chosen from the list of participating labs, or students can make their own arrangements with prospective labs. For assistance in finding a suitable lab, click here. Contact us at if you have questions about the suitability of your proposed lab, or need further assistance in finding a lab or planning an exchange.

How To Apply

  • Step 1 - Think about the kind of research you’d like to participate in: would you like to work in the lab? in the field? on sea creatures? on mammals? Use the internet and consult your professors to help find a host lab that matches your interests. Our interactive Participating Labs and Finding A Lab pages can help you with this. You can also email us at for help in choosing a lab.
  • Step 2 - Contact the PI of the lab you would like to work in. Some labs are actively looking for undergraduate interns; those labs will be indicated on our Participating Labs page. Even if a lab is not indicated as actively seeking interns, you should feel free to contact the PI via email.

    Give your email an informative subject line; for example, “EDEN Research Position Inquiry” or “Undergraduate Seeking Summer Internship” is better than “Your Research” or “Request for Meeting.” Send an email introducing yourself, explaining that you would like to pursue an internship in their lab and why you are interested in their research, and let them know that you plan to apply to EDEN for a training award. If you don’t get a response right away, don’t worry! Most PIs are very busy, but will eventually get back to you.
  • Step 3 - Write a description of your specific scientific goals for the internship. Your host PI may be able to help you come up with ideas for this section, but the writing should be your own. This should describe the hypothesis you would like to test, and the experiments you plan to do. This should be a maximum of 1000 words.
  • Step 4 - Write a description of your general scientific interests and career goals. We’d like to know why you are interested in science, what your future scientific c areer goals are, and what you think this internship will offer you. This should be a maximum of 500 words.
  • Step 5 - Arrange for two letters of support to be sent to us on your behalf. These letters should be from people who can comment on your scientific or academic interests and abilities. Such people could include professors or lab supervisors. Relatives, friends, or your boss from a non-scientific job are not appropriate letter writers. Make sure your letter writers understand the program that you are applying for; show them your project proposal and direct them to the EDEN website. Ask your letter writers to email their letters to admin@edenrcn.com, or to post them to EDEN c/o Cassandra Extavour, Harvard University, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, 16 Divinity Avenue, BioLabs Room 4105, Cambridge, MA 02138. Your letter writers must indicate clearly that the letters are for your application to the EDEN Undergraduate Training Program. It is your responsibility to make sure that these letters reach EDEN by the application deadline.
  • Step 6 - Arrange for the PI of your host lab to send us a letter of support from the host lab. This letter is in addition to the letters of support described in Step 5, unless your host lab PI already knows you extremely well. Even if this is the case, two independent letters of reccomendation would be preferred. The letter of support should simply state that the host PI agrees to host you in their lab for the duration of the internship, can provide the necessary resources for you to carry out your project, and agrees to the public dissemination (via the EDEN website) of any protocols arising from your internship.
  • Step 7 - Arrange for your official academic transcripts to be sent to us on your behalf. Have the transcripts emailed to admin@edenrcn.com (this is the strongly preferred option) or posted to EDEN c/o Cassandra Extavour, Harvard University, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, 16 Divinity Avenue, BioLabs Room 4105, Cambridge, MA 02138. It must be indicated clearly that the transcripts are for your application to the EDEN Undergraduate Internship Program. It is your responsibility to make sure that your transcripts reach EDEN by the application deadline - simply having them postmarked before the application deadline may not be sufficient.
  • Step 8 - Complete the Application Form, which you can download here. You will need to use Adobe Acrobat Pro to complete and save this form; if you use Adobe Reader, the answers you fill in will not be saved. Before submtting your completed application, double check that your answers are all visible in the saved application form by closing it and re-opening it.
  • Step 9 - Compile your project goals (Step 3), your personal statement (Step 4), and the Application Form (Step 7) into a single PDF document. Upload this single PDF document by clicking here.

Our application procedure is completely electronic. Please do NOT send any hard copy materials by post; they will not be considered (the only exception to this is official transcripts, if they are sent to EDEN from your academic institution). Do not send documents in any format except PDF format; word processor formats (e.g. .doc, .docx) or other image formats (e.g. .jpg, .tif) will not be accepted.

Your application must be uploaded by midnight on March 11 of the application year.


Information for Host Labs

The grant will only cover travel expenses; host or home labs will be expected to cover reasonable consumables costs associated with the exchange project. The host lab is expected to provide a reasonable level of assistance to the EDEN undergraduate student in finding accommodation, or other practical needs. The participants will be expected to submit written summaries or videos of protocols learned or developed for dissemination. Therefore, the host lab must be willing to have the techniques/protocols that their guest will learn and/or develop made available to the general public, and should indicate this in their letter of support.

After Completing your Internship

As a participant in EDEN-funded research, you will be required to submit two documents:

1) Report. As part of this two-part report (see below) you will be asked to describe techniques or protocols developed during your exchange. However, other creative dissemination plans are encouraged (for example, submission of video protocols to JOVE). The report and any protocols submitted will be posted on the EDEN website, so that the broader community can access the techniques and protocols you developed. It is important that your host PI acknowledge their agreement to these terms of EDEN funding, in their letter of support.

2) Evaluation of your exchange experience. The evaluation will remain confidential.

You are required to submit both of these documents within one month of the completion of the exchange.

To prepare and submit your report and protocol, please click here.

Participants should acknowledge NSF/EDEN grant number IOS # 0955517 in the "Acknowledgements" section of any arising publications.


Why is it important for me to submit a report?

A fundamental goal of this Research Coordination Network is to disseminate techniques to the broad evo-eco-devo community. To meet this goal, the techniques you develop or learn will be made publicly available on the EDEN website. It is important that your host PI acknowledge their agreement to these terms of EDEN funding, in their letter of support.


What do I need to do?

You need to write a Report consisting of two sections, which are described below.

  1. Visit narrative
    Describe the context of your lab visit, including the organism(s) studied, your broader biological question and the specific problem that motivated the exchange, in 500 words or less. Please include a description of whether your experience was successful in terms of solving this problem, including what worked, what didn’t, and what you might do differently were you to do it again.
  2. Techniques and Protocol(s)
    Provide an easy to follow, step-by-step protocol for each technique that you developed or learned during your lab visit. This component of the report is required for research exchanges and optional (but strongly encouraged) for undergraduate internships. In addition to the written protocol, we strongly encourage participants to produce a video demonstrating the technique. To view examples of existing protocols, click here.

You also need to complete and submit an evaluation form to assess the outcome of the lab visit and the impact of the EDEN RCN on your research or education. Download the evaluation form here. You will need to use Adobe Acrobat Pro to complete and save this form; if you use Adobe Reader, the answers you fill in will not be saved. Before submtting your completed evaluation, double check that your answers are all visible in the saved form by closing it and re-opening it.

Save your report and your evaluation forms as separate PDF files. Click here to submit your completed report and evaluation.

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EDEN Logo: Daniel Christianson. Logo Image: Frederike Alwes. Contact EDEN: edenrcn@fas.harvard.edu.