REEU: Expanding Opportunities In Agricultural Sciences: Crop-to-Food Innovation

Pending funding approval.

For information contact

Edgar Cahoon

Director Center for Plant Science Innovation

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Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline
Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline

Who should apply


Related fields

  • Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Bioprocess Engineering
  • Food science
  • Human and Livestock Nutrition

This program encourages applications from...

Eligibility

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

This 10-week summer REEU in Crop-to-Food Innovation will allow students to integrate fundamental science discovery with its translation to understand the steps from crop trait inception to commercialization of new food products based on those novel traits. Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline, which will allow students to gain a broader perspective on their research projects and appreciate the steps from product inception to prototype development to application evaluation. 

As part of the training, the students will begin their research training by completing a 1.5-week Biotechnology Training Camp (BTC) which will provide students with an overview of fundamental laboratory skills and knowledge including basic molecular biology methods, routine microbiology, and biochemistry applications. Our program will also provide complimentary professional development and leadership skills training that focuses on science communication, outreach, and entrepreneurship.

Benefits

  • Competitive stipend: $6,500
  • 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.

Events

  • 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 and Aquarium
  • Outdoor adventures
  • Research symposium

Mentors and Projects

Prof. Jennifer M. Auchtung Food Science and Technology

Health Benefits of Microbiome, Diet, and Host Interactions

My laboratory will train undergraduate students in approaches to identify traits of crops that may enhance health benefits by altering the functions of members of the human gastrointestinal microbiome. Currently, our lab is working to understand how interactions between the microbiome, diet and host contribute to human health. Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

Prof. Andrew Benson Nebraska Food for Health Center

Affects of Genetic Variation in Grain Crops on Human Gut Microbiome

My own research program is focused on understanding how genetic variation in grain crops can affect bioactive components that ultimately have effects on the human gut microbiome. Depending on student’s interest, the REEU participants will have the opportunity to work with any of my lab staff and students who are currently mapping Microbiome-Active Traits (MATs) in Sorghum, Maize, and Common Bean. There are also opportunities for field and greenhouse work, as well as laboratory work using some of the most state of the art automation and robotic systems available for microbiome research. 

Prof. Edgar Cahoon Biochemistry & Center for Plant Science Innovation

Biochemical and Genetic Basis for Immense Chemical Diversity in Plant Lipids

My lab explores the biochemical and genetic basis for the immense chemical diversity found in plant lipids. By combining biochemistry and functional genomics, we have solved the biochemical pathways and identified the associated genes for a wide range of unusual fatty acids found in seed oils. My research has also provided new insights into vitamin E and carotenoid metabolism in plants. REEU student mentees in my lab will have opportunities to participate in molecular biology, biochemistry, and analytical chemistry. 

Prof. Ozan Ciftci Department of Food Science and Technology

Innovative Food Manufacturing Technologies

REEU students in my lab will learn innovative food manufacturing technologies and recent trends in food manufacturing that are not taught at undergraduate level. Learning supercritical fluid technology and green food manufacturing and having hands-on experience will equip the undergraduate students with valuable skills that will make them ready for the rapidly changing food manufacturing industry. They will also be exposed to university-industry collaborations in my lab, and they will make connections with food industry. Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

Prof. Thomas Clemente Agronomy and Horticulture

Plant Transformation Methods

The Plant Transformation Core Research Facility has actively engaged in mentoring learners as they progress through their STEM career path.  REEU will learn about the design and carryout activities on selected crops under study in the lab, to enable the learner to gather hands-on experience in plant transformation methods along with subsequent molecular and phenotypic characterizations of the derived transgenic events.  Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

Prof. Mary-Grace Danao Food Science and Technology

Testing the Effects of High-Pressure Processes on Plant-based Proteins

REEU student can use protocols to test effects of high pressure processing (HPP) and high pressure homogenization HPH on one or two properties of plant-based proteins, such as dry beans and pulses produced in the Nebraskan panhandle.  Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

Prof. Katherine Frels Agriculture & Horticulture

Development of Improved Small Grains Varieties

REEU students will be involved in research currently on-going in my lab. My lab focuses on the development of improved small grains varieties using high-throughput genotypic and phenotypic tools and identifying the genetic mechanisms that control important agronomic traits such as yield, disease resistance, stress tolerance, and heterosis. REEI students will also work with additional mentors in my lab to broaden their experiences and network. Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

Prof. David R. Holding Agronomy and Horticulture & Center for Plant Science Innovation

Breeding Popcorn and Sweetcorn Using Public Germplasm

The project will contribute to a multi-pronged approach to breed several new varieties of popcorn and sweetcorn using public germplasm. The overarching goal is to provide undergraduates with hands-on experience in basic field techniques in maize breeding while also exposing them to hands on lab screening techniques using primer design, DNA extraction, PCR and protein analysis. Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

https://www.unl.edu/psi/david-holding-0

Prof. Amanda Ramer-Tait Nebraska Food for Health Center & Nebraska Gnotobiotic Mouse Program

Investigating the Metabolic Health Benefits of Genetically Modified Soybean Oils

REEU participants will work on research projects to investigate the metabolic health benefits of oils derived from genetically modified soybeans developed by scientists in the Center for Plant Science Innovation. Before beginning their research project, the REEU students will complete our lab’s on-boarding and safety training process. They will then each be matched with their own senior graduate student/postdoc mentor from our lab for guidance and hands-on training. Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

Prof. Devin Rose Department of Food Science & Technology, Agronomy & Horticulture

Processing and Health-Promoting Properties of Grains and Legumes

Research in my lab is centered on processing and health-promoting properties of grains and legumes. Current work is on dietary modulation of the composition and function of the gut microbiota with emphasis on dietary fibers, including resistant starches, proteins, and polyphenolics. The goal in these projects is to determine how dietary compounds can be used to modulate microbial metabolism in the gut and promote host health. We use in vitro and in vivo approaches to show the relationship between chemical composition of food components and functionality of the gut microbiota. Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

Prof. James C. Schnable Quantitative Life Sciences Initiative & Center for Plant Science Innovation

Integrating New Technologies into Maize and Sorghum Research

The participants will be involved in part of the research related to integrating new technologies and capabilities from engineering, computer science, and statistics into maize and sorghum genetic and genomic research.  Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.

Prof. Mark Wilkins Biological Systems Engineering and Food Science and Technology

Experience in Food Processing to Produce Vegetable Oils and Protein Meal

REEU students will be gain knowledge in food processing, particularly in oilseed processing to produce vegetable oils and protein meal. Additionally, the Industrial Agricultural Products Center will provide REEU participants access to pilot-scale equipment and training to operate this equipment to achieve research objectives related to the effect of plant transformations on plant characteristics. 

Prof. Changmou Xu Department of Food Science and Technology

Sustainable Food Production/Processing of Specialty Crops and Application of AI for Intelligent Food Science

Depending on their interest, the REEU students will be involved in research currently on-going in my laboratory.  Research is mainly focused on 1) Value-added and sustainable food production and processing of specialty crops in Nebraska, such as grape, aronia berry, hops, and dry beans; and 2) The application of AI (machine learning) for intelligent food science, such as rapid detection, precision flavor, and predicting the activities of natural antimicrobial agents. Student research projects will involve collaborations across two or more of the components of our Crop-to-Food Innovation Pipeline.