Integrated Biological Sciences Summer Research Program (IBS-SRP)



How to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions


About the Program

2016 Program Dates: May 31 - August 6, 2016
Application Deadline: February 16, 2016

Interested in a research career? Experience of the richness of the research environment at a premier research university with this hands-on summer program. You'll get an invaluable glimpse of what graduate-level study and research careers might entail.

IBS-SRP is designed to be accessible to rising juniors and seniors who might not otherwise have this kind of opportunity before they graduate. There is no cost for program participation. In addition, a stipend is provided to each student, and housing and travel costs are covered. Underrepresented minority, low-income, and first-generation college students are strongly encouraged to apply, as are students from small liberal arts institutions without broad research facilities.

Program participants live close to campus and perform full-time research for 10 weeks within a discipline-based research group led by a faculty member. A seminar series taken alongside helps contextualize the research in relation to major concepts in biology.* Events and activities support career and graduate school exploration and help students build useful skills, such as science writing. Students present their projects at a final symposium and write research reports that are compiled in a program journal.

Participants conduct research in one of eight disciplinary areas:

*The major concepts in biology that frame the program seminars are: evolution; pathways and transformations of energy and matter in biological systems; information flow, exchange and storage in biological systems; structure and function; and systems biology.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Strong career interest in biological science research
  • Undergraduate student status, between the sophomore and senior year; must have student status when the program session starts (see Frequently Asked Questions for more info)
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status
  • Grade point average of at least 3.0 (see Frequently Asked Questions for more info)

Students who are African American, Hispanic, Native American, Southeast Asian, Native Alaskan or Native Pacific Islander OR who are from low-income homes OR who are the first in their family to attend college OR who attend small liberal arts institutions without broad research facilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

How To Apply

The application for the next year's session will be available from this web site starting in mid-November. The "Apply" button at the top of this page will take you to the online application.

During the application process you will need to provide:
  1. Names and email addresses for two people who will provide letters of recommendation
  2. Electronic version of your college transcript (scanned hard copies if electronic transcripts are not available); unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  3. Three short personal essays on the following:
  • How your participation in IBS-SRP would contribute to your future goals and career plans.
  • Which area(s) of research are of interest you.
  • Any previous research experience you've had, if any.

Applicants are encouraged to learn about faculty doing research in their areas of interest and identify their top choices for potential mentors in the application. The links to the labs above on this page will help you find out more about research areas.

Selection and Placement

Selection and laboratory placement of students will take place in January, February, and March. Applicants who are not placed will be notified by the end of April.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I come to UW-Madison for a summer research program?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has one of the strongest biological research communities in the U.S. It offers graduate training programs in over 40 areas of biological research. Participants report that IBS-SRP has helped them determine whether graduate school is right for them, check out UW-Madison for grad school, and learn particular research techniques.

Housing costs are covered. What does that mean?

Participants in the IBS-SRP are housed in the Regent apartment building, which is within walking distance of laboratories and State Street (i.e., downtown Madison). Participants from other summer programs are housed in the same building. 

I noticed there are other summer research programs in the biological sciences at UW-Madison. Can I apply to more than one?

All of the biological sciences summer research programs share one application. When you apply, you will rank your choice of programs. You can be considered for multiple programs with one application.

How many students do you accept?

Each year IBS-SRP accepts 40-45 students into the program from a pool of about 500 applicants.

Is the IBS-SRP open to minority students only?

No. The National Science Foundation (NSF), one of our primary funders, has endorsed opening Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs like IBS-SRP to non-minority students who attend small liberal arts colleges as well as to minority students. Both minority students from all universities and non-minority students from small universities (without broad research opportunities) are encouraged to apply.

What are the ethnicity/gender ratios for the IBS-SRP?

~67% underrepresented minority and ~77% women

If preference is given to students between their junior and senior years, can I get in if I'm going to be a junior?

We favor students entering their senior year because this is their last chance to participate. However, we accept well-qualified students who will be juniors.

My grade point average isn't quite 3.0. Should I apply anyway?

We occasionally accept promising students whose GPAs are less than 3.0. Be sure to tell us WHY you are a 'promising' student in your essay, and if possible, make sure your recommendation letters indicate that this experience would be worthwhile for you and that you'll perform successfully.

I'm a UW-Madison student. Can I apply to the IBS-SRP?

Yes. Preference may be given to members of underrepresented minority groups (African American, Hispanic, Native American, Southeast Asian, Native Alaskan or Native Pacific Islander), low-income and first-generation college students, and other underserved groups, depending on funding requirements and other considerations.

How are applications reviewed?

An initial screen of applicants is made by program staff. Files on the best-qualified applicants are forwarded to particular faculty mentors based on research interests expressed by students in their applications. Each mentor reviews the applications and determines which student is the best fit for her/his research. The mentor then contacts the selected student to confirm interest in a specific project and offer him/her a summer research position.

Can I enroll in summer school or have a job while participating in the IBS-SRP?

No. IBS-SRP participants do research full-time (at least 40 hr/week). The idea is to enjoy an intensive research experience when you are freed from the schedules and obligations of coursework.

More about Amber Smith

Amber Robertson Smith

Faculty Associate for Research Mentor/Mentee Programs
Contact Info

(608) 265-0850


Room 118D

445 Henry Mall

Madison, WI 53706

I earned my PhD in Plant Breeding Plant Genetics from UW-Madison and continued my education with a postdoctoral experience centered on developing first-year transition programs for biology students. After working at the University of Michigan in the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, I joined the WISCIENCE staff as the Director of Mentor and Mentee Training.

I direct the Integrated Biological Sciences Summer Research Program, coordinate and instruct the Entering Mentoring and Entering Research courses, and oversee the research peer leadership students.

Outside of work, I love hanging out with family, cooking, and spending time outside.