Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): Educating for the grand challenges at the intersection of biocomplexity and high-performance computing



Twelve undergraduate summer research positions in high-performance computational biology are expected to be available at the University of Missouri-Columbia for summer 2014.


Application deadline: February 9thth.  The application form can be found at:



Participants will receive:


Research projects:

The project abstract is given below.  Participants will work in a biological or computational science research lab for 9 weeks over the summer.  You will work in pairs (one biologist with one computational scientist) on one of several projects such as:



            Gavin Conant (


Project Abstract:

This REU Site award to the University of Missouri (MU), located in Columbia, MO, will support the training of 12 students for 9 weeks during the summers of 2014-2016. Pairs of student researchers, one from the computational and one from the life sciences, will work collaboratively at the interface of high performance computing and big data biology. Students will select from a diverse group of research projects, with a choice of mentors from five departments in the computational and life sciences. Example projects include developing parallel computing approaches to allow identifying the gene duplications that co-occurred with important evolutionary transitions such as the origins of mammalian placentation and using parallel computers and GPUs to infer the plant tree of life with data from high-throughput sequencing. In addition, participants will be a part of MU's dynamic summer research program, attending professional development sessions, training in the responsible conduct of research, and focused weekly training sessions on parallel computing and biology, directed by four faculty mentors. Participants will be recruited from a variety of institutions, with a preference for students from minority-serving institutions and undergraduate-only colleges. The PIs and research mentors will select participants (half from the computational and half from the life sciences) and help them choose a computational or biological partner. Participants' progress will be assessed with pre- and post-tests covering the program's technical material. The program will be evaluated using NSF's common assessment tool.

            Computation, and especially parallel computation, will be vital to science and engineering in the future, as increasing data volumes from instruments such as next-generation DNA sequencers overwhelm current laboratory techniques and software tools. The training and research experience offered at this REU site will give the participants important and unique opportunities to shape this revolution in the natural sciences.

Students are required to be tracked after the program and must respond to an automatic email sent via the NSF reporting system. More information is available by visiting, or by contacting the PI (Dr. Gavin Conant; or the co-PI (Dr. Chi-Ren Shyu; Chi-Ren Shyu



Participating faculty mentors: