Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Microbiomes of Aquatic Plant and Soil Systems (MAPS)

Kansas NSF EPSCoR empowers undergraduates with summer research experiences at four universities across the state. The projects focus on microbiomes of aquatic, plant, and soil systems.

Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program. Students who have already graduated with a four year degree are not eligible. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or permanent residents.

Who should apply: We aspire to train a diverse cohort each summer and welcome all undergraduate applicants with related majors, including groups that are underrepresented in the sciences. We review applications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.

Summer 2023 REU opportunities in Kansas:

University of Kansas

Kansas State University

Wichita State University

Search for other REU opportunities across the country. 

University of Kansas REU

This REU is a collaborative project between Kansas NSF EPSCoR scientists and the New Roots for Restoration Biology Integration Institute, a National Science Foundation funded initiative aimed at restoring natural and agricultural ecosystems by studying how plant roots influence communities and the soil ecosphere. It takes place at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Dates: 10 weeks from May 30 through August 4, 2023.

Benefits: REU interns who need lodging will receive a $6000 stipend with a meal plan. REU interns who cover their own lodging will receive an $8000 stipend (with no meal plan). Travel will be reimbursed for students coming from other institutions.

What to expect: REU students will conduct research (see below for details) and network with the broader institute through in-person and virtual meetings. Students will also join a near-peer mentoring scheme in which they work closely with high school students, graduate students, and professors to achieve research, training, and diversifying goals.

How to apply for the KU REU program: Review of applications will begin on February 28 and selections will be made by March 15th. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Peggy Schultz,


Examples of KU faculty mentors and their research projects:

Mentor Dr. Maggie Wagner, is an Assistant Scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey and an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Research in Maggie’s lab focuses on how plants’ genes shape the composition and function of plant-associated microbiomes. Maggie’s lab also investigates how microbial symbionts act as part of the environment to influence their plant host’s phenotype, health, and fitness. Students will conduct experiments to investigate how genetic diversity within a plant species affects the interactions with root-associated microbes. Most projects will focus on Eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), a wild perennial relative of corn. Potential projects include comparing the effects of different soil microbiomes on root and shoot characteristics; and measuring the abundance and metabolic activity of microbes colonizing the roots of diverse Eastern gamagrass genotypes.

Mentor Dr. Jim Bever is a Senior Scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey and Foundation Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Research in Jim’s lab has found that the interactions of plants and soil organisms have a strong influence on the diversity and productivity of plant communities. Students will work at the intersection of plant roots and the soil microbiome to test the potential interdependencies between plants and soil microbes in determining ecosystem functions. Students will have the option of working on a variety of projects, and we will match the research question to the interests of individual students. The potential projects include tests of the influence of mycorrhizal fungi on plant root architecture, tests of trade-offs of plant root architecture and responsiveness to mycorrhizal fungi, tests of plant soil feedback in prairie plants, and tests of plant preferential allocation to root symbionts.

Mentor Dr. Ben Sikes is an Associate Scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Research in Ben’s lab focuses on fungal community structure, resilience, and function. As part of the New Roots for Restoration BII, we are particularly interested in how different fungal taxa, fungal communities, and soil microbes more generally shape the rooting traits of both perennial agricultural and native plants. In turn, root architectures provide the habitat for fungi and can strongly influence susceptibility to pathogens and potential to host beneficial fungi. Apart from this project, we also explore adaptation and fungal community structure and function under extreme environmental stresses, including fire and, more recently space-like stresses.

Kansas State University REU:

This REU opportunity provides students with an $8,000 stipend and $1,000 of research supplies.  Housing is not provided.

Several professors are available to mentor students. Contact Professor Walter Dodds to learn more. 

Wichita State University REU

There will be no REU positions at WSU this summer. Contact Dr. Greg Houseman with questions.