MGCB REU Summer Program

Research Experience for Undergraduates in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology


For more information, please contact Aaron Turkewitz ( 

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago is at the forefront of research in molecular mechanisms underlying cell biology and organismal development. Current faculty work on fundamental problems in biology using a wide range of model systems including viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, plants, nematode worms, fruit flies, fish and mice. With funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department offers an exciting opportunity for talented undergraduates to acquire experience in research. This program is designed for students who are interested in attending graduate school and pursuing a career in science. MGCB Summer Internships allow students to devote themselves to research projects, working in collaboration with graduate students or postdoctoral fellows, to address important problems in biology.

Interns will be hosted by research laboratories in the department, most of which are housed in the Cummings Life Sciences Center, with several laboratories in a nearby building. Interns will have full access to the advanced instrumentation available in the host laboratories as well as in a large set of superb core facilities, including advanced light and electron microscopy, next-generation DNA sequencing, and a wide range of biophysical approaches.

In addition to research, interns will participate in workshops on communicating scientific results and ethics in research. See the schedule of activities below.

2021 Date(s) Activity
February 8, 2021 Application due date
February-March Applications reviewed by Steering Committee; interns chosen and host laboratories assigned
March-April Interns contacted by Program Administrator with internship information
April-May Interns contacted by PI of host laboratory
TBD Interns arrive in Chicago and move into dormitory**
June 9 Session starts
Week 1 Departmental welcoming reception; workshop on laboratory safety; 10 min intern presentations on planned projects
Week 2-9 Faculty seminars on Thursdays (7 total) at lunch
Week 3 Workshop on scientific ethics
Week 3-9 Friday lunch meetings with interns and faculty to present progress, with each intern presenting bi-weekly
Week 5 Workshop on applying to graduate school
Week 10 Departmental minisymposium with 15 min intern presentations. Poster session with Departmental reception
Flexible scheduling during summer Social evenings with faculty
August 18 Session Ends 
**On-site/move-in information will be available per COVID guidelines and restrictions**


Chicago is one of the most vibrant of American cities, particularly exciting in the summer with a succession of free music festivals. The University is located in the neighborhood of Hyde Park. Hyde Parkers have easy access via public transportation to the cultural riches of downtown Chicago, as well as enjoying beautiful local parks along the Chicago lakeshore. REU interns will be housed in dormitories near the research laboratories and a twenty minute walk to Promontory Point, a favorite spot for summer barbecues and lake swimming.

Based on individual student's preferences and faculty availability, each intern will be assigned a faculty mentor and will design a research project in close consultation with that mentor. Active participation in that research project will be the main focus of the summer.

Students will be expected to participate in research for at least 40 hours per week for the full 10 weeks, and may not enroll in classes or hold outside employment during the term of their internship. Students will also be exposed to the types of research being pursued in the department during weekly lunchtime seminars given by faculty.

To learn more about projects in which participants might be involved, view the list of MGCB REU faculty trainers below.

Each student will receive a $5,500 stipend, plus $750 food allowance, plus travel expenses to and from the University. In addition, housing will be provided, with comfortable accommodations within a convenient University of Chicago undergraduate dormitory.


Faculty Participants in the Summer 2021 REU Program:

Richard Fehon Regulation of epithelial polarity and proliferation during development
Ben Glick Biogenesis of secretory pathway organelles in yeast and mammalian cells, and directed evolution of fluorescent proteins
Michael Glotzer Cytokinesis in animal cells
Jean Greenberg Plant defense against bacterial infection, and bacterial virulence mechanisms
Sally Horne-Badovinac Polarized epithelia
David Kovar Actin assembly in fission yeast, from fundamental cellular mechanisms to cancer
Stephen Kron Signal transduction, cell cycle control, and checkpoints. Technology development
Heng-Chi Lee Small RNA-mediated epigenetic regulation & genome surveillance
Laurens Mets Alternative energy from algae
Ed Munro Cytoskeletal dynamics and cell polarization and morphogenesis
David Pincus Cellular stress responses and protein homeostasis
Ilaria Rebay Transcriptional regulatory circuits in development and disease
Michael Rust The role of oscillations and rhythms in living systems
Jonathon Staley Pre-mRNA splicing - mechanisms and regulation in yeast and humans
Aaron Turkewitz Membrane traffic and evolution in protozoa

This program is limited to students whose home institution is not the University of Chicago. Participants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States and have a strong interest in research. The MGCB REU program is designed to encourage and enhance the participation of students from schools without large research programs and from members of minorities currently underrepresented in the sciences. We will not accept applicants who are currently enrolled in institutions with PhD programs in Biological Sciences comparable to the University of Chicago. Applicants currently enrolled in their junior year of college are preferred, but students in earlier years will also be considered.

The link to complete an application is below. The application deadline is February 8, 2021, and successful candidates will be contacted during February-March.

Application link:

Move-in will take place on Date TBD, with the program running from June 9 to August 18, 2021.

For more information, please contact Aaron Turkewitz.