REU: Systems Biology of Plant and Microbiome

Center for Root and Rhizobiome Innovation

For information contact

Systems Biology Greenhouse.
Systems Biology Greenhouse.

Application Dates

Nov 15 2016 App opens
February 1 Priority deadline
March 1 App closes
April 1 Decisions complete

Program Dates

June 4 2017 Arrival day
June 5 Program begins
August 9 Program ends
August 10 Departure day

Who should apply

Related fields

  • Plant Science
  • Systems Biology
  • Agronomy and Horticulture
  • Genomics
  • Computational Biology
  • Microbiology


Participation in the Nebraska Summer Research Program is limited to students who meet the following criteria:
  • U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Current undergraduate with at least one semester of coursework remaining before obtaining a bachelor's degree

See Eligibility for more information.

How to apply

Follow the application steps to submit the following materials.

About the Program

The Center for Root and Rhizobiome Innovation (CRRI) will establish and develop tools and technologies for more rapid, precise, and predictable crop genetic improvement that complement methods currently used by biotechnologists and plant breeders.  These innovations are needed because of the urgency and enormity of challenges facing global agriculture, including the need to feed a rapidly growing population in the face of extreme climate variations and limitations in water and soil vitality.  

CRRI research will be structured around a systems and synthetic biology core to generate and iteratively improve network models of plant metabolism for predictable outcomes from genetic modifications.  CRRI’s systems and synthetic biology research will be applied to the study of root metabolism and its influence on root-interactions with soil microbes for improved plant health.    

Corn plant in Lemnatec.
Corn plant in Lemnatec.

Research will focus on root metabolism in maize, a plant genetic model and important crop species, but findings will be broadly applicable to other plants and crop species.  CRRI will develop and use fundamental knowledge to create translational products with far-reaching impact on plant and microbial biology and global agriculture.


  • Competitive stipend: $5,000
  • Suite-style room and meal plan
  • Travel expenses to and from Lincoln
  • Campus parking and/or bus pass
  • Full access to the Campus Recreation Center and campus library system
  • Wireless internet access

Learn more about academic and financial benefits.


  • Department seminars and presentations
  • Professional development workshops (e.g., applying to graduate school, taking the GRE)
  • Welcome picnic
  • Day trip to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
  • Canoe and camping trip
  • Research symposium

Mentors and Projects

Dr. Jim Alfano School of Biological Sciences

The Effect of Bacterial Pathogens on Plants

The Alfano research group studies plant immunity and how bacterial pathogens cause disease in plants. More recently the group has initiated studies on maize roots and the microbiota that contribute to plant health.

Dr. Tomas Helikar Biochemistry

Multi-scale computational modeling

Integration of heterogeneous experimental data with computational models across various scales of biological organization (e.g., metabolism with signal transduction and cell-cell communication level).

Dr. Etsuko Moriyama School of Biological Sciences

Computational assembly and comparative analysis of transcriptomes from maize, teosinte, and eastern gamma grass

Transcriptomes will be assembled using both reference-based and de novo assembly methods. Quality of each transcriptome will be assessed. Gene mining and function prediction will be done for each transciptome. Bioinformatics and molecular evolutionary analyses will be performed for various genes and gene families among maize and related species. Divergence and evolutionary relationships among orthologs and their functions will be examined.