Interdisciplinary evolutionary sciences research experiences

Picture of the state of Iowa with Darwin in the middle of it.

The focus of this REU is training in evolutionary science, with students working on research projects across several disciplines.  Several academic departments at the University of Iowa offer research projects that span a range of topics, including evolution of behavior, origin of species, cancer evolutionevolution of sex, paleontology, and the evolution of disease. Study organisms span a large range of taxa, and include: flies, snails, fungi, viruses, wasps, human cancer cells, beetles, and disease-causing bacteria and protozoa. Students work on one project, but through interactions with their cohort ultimately receive a broad exposure to evolutionary science. As part of the program, students: receive training in research best practicesparticipate in career workshopscreate a digital exhibit based on their research for the University of Iowa Natural History Museum, and make formal research presentations based on their work. Housing, a meal allowance, stipend ($6,250), and a travel allowance are provided to all participants.

Questions? Contact Dr. Andrew Forbes (

Apply Now for the Summer 2024 Program

  • Dan Eberl - Reception of courtship song in dipteran insects
  • Jan Fassler - Variation in sequence and functions of glutamine rich proteins 
  • Anthony Fischer - Evolution of Staphylococcus aureus during chronic respiratory infections
  • Andrew Forbes - Evolution and diversity of parasitic insects
  • Bin He - Evolution of gene regulatory networks for stress response
  • Douglas Houston - Evolution of development in amphibians and molluscs.
  • Drew Kitchen - Emergence and evolutionary rates in viruses
  • John Logsdon - Molecular evolution of sex and meiosis
  • Maurine Neiman - Evolution of sex in nature
  • Lara Noldner - Human Osteological Documentation and Research with the University of Iowa Stanford Collection
  • Bryan Phillips - Understanding the role of protein aggregation in C. elegans embryonic development
  • Sarit Smolikove - DNA Damage Repair and Meiosis
  • Christopher Stipp - Evolution of tumor heterogeneity
  • Mary Wilson - Determinants of disease severity due to infection with the Leishmania species protozoa

Participants should:

  • Be US citizens or permanent residents enrolled at U.S. universities
  • Be majoring in a STEM field (especially biology, biological anthropology, or geoscience with a paleontology emphasis)
  • Be available to attend the entirety of the program, May through July 2024
  • Have a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above
  • Have a background in science coursework. Coursework that connects directly to topics in evolution will be favored. 
  • Have a strong work ethic and motivation to learn
  • Have an interest in pursuing a career in scientific research
  • Identify three or more potential research mentors from this list.

Students from underrepresented minority groups and/or who have limited research opportunities at their home institution are especially encouraged to apply.

Questions? Contact Dr. Andrew Forbes (

REU alumni projects

  • Carolina Pacheco Diaz, Universidad Ana G. Mendez
    • "Functional Conservation of Med15 in Humans and Fungi"
    • Advisor: Jan Fassler
  • Rebecca Davenport, Loyola Marymount University
    • "The Limitations and Advantages of Citizen-Science Data in Measuring Bee Diversity of Iowa Prairies."
    • Advisor: Steve Hendrix
  • Charles Davis, Rice University
    • "Describing the Natural Enemy Communities Associated with Andricus foliatus galls on two host trees: Quercus geminata and Quercus virginiana."
    • Advisor: Andrew Forbes
  • Alex Jonguitud, University of South Carolina - Beaufort
    • "Evolutionary Rates and the History of Polyomavirus Infections in Humans."
    • Advisor: Andrew Kitchen
  • Rachel Nelson, University of Iowa
    • "Early Season Relationships between Floral Resources and Wild Bees in Urban Environments."
    • Advisor: Steve Hendrix
  • Amanda O'Grady, University of Tennessee - Chattanooga
    • "Morphometric Analysis of the Conodont Genus Elictognathus and its Relationship to the Genus Siphonodella."
    • Advisor: Brad Cramer
  • Amanda Pope, Humboldt State University
    • "Using Sleeping Beauty Transposon-mediated mutagenesis to drive the evolution of fluid shear stress resistance in a pancreatic cancer cell population."
    • Advisor: Chris Stipp
  • Isiaha Price, Amherst College
    • "Bayesian Estimates of Polyomavirus Evolutionary Rates."
    • Advisor: Andrew Kitchen
  • Andrew Seiler, Thomas More University
    • "Is Fragment Size or Fragment Number more Important to Moth Biodiversity in Iowa Prairie Fragments?"
    • Advisor: Andrew Forbes
  • Ari Szubryt, Southern Illinois University
    • "The utility of Geometric Morphometrics for Differentiating between Unionid Mussel Species."
    • Advisor: Mary Kosloski