Undergraduate Great Lakes Research Experience

Open to student applicants from across the U.S.A., the Central Michigan University Great Lakes Research Experiences for Undergraduates program supports the training of 4-8 students for 10 weeks during summer 2024 (tentative dates are May 28 - August 2). Participants are expected to be in residence at the CMU sites during the entire time period.

Great Lakes REU Research

Students will participate in field and laboratory research that challenges them to think critically about the interdisciplinary nature of large lake ecosystems. Students will work closely with a faculty mentor to define an independent research project that investigates how anthropogenic stressors are affecting the structure and function of the Great Lakes ecosystem (nearshore, offshore, island lakes and wetlands). Research will be conducted at CMU’s Biological Station on Beaver Island, a remote, largely forested, island in northern Lake Michigan. Its complex geological history, seven insular lakes, and proximity to large lake water currents make Beaver Island an ideal location to explore connections between anthropogenic stressors, Great Lakes ecosystems, and weather.

Participants will collaborate with CMU faculty to develop projects that increase our understanding of the response of large freshwater systems to anthropogenic stressors including pollution (nutrients, microplastics, hydrocarbons), climate change (water level), and non-native species (many are invasive). Participants will gain hands-on experience in all parts of the scientific process, from experimental design through data acquisition and dissemination. In addition to doing research, students will engage in structured professional and intellectual development activities including science talks from individuals inside and outside of academia, skills building workshops such as how to use R or create a scientific poster, professional development workshops such as how to make a CV or apply to graduate school. These skills and experiences will prepare students to be successful scientists, effective communicators, and socially aware citizens.

Research team

2023 participants and projects

  • Andrew Bumps –Influence of Alternative Reproductive Tactics on Exploratory and Aggressive Behaviors in Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus)
  • Jack Gensler - Enzyme Activity and the Detection of Nitrifying Microorganisms​ in Purple Pitcher Plants
  • Katarina Gonzalez – Presence of Aerobic Hydrocarbon Degrading Microbes in Lake Michigan ​
  • Katie Guinn –Effects of Microplastics on Phytoplankton Community Composition ​
  • Emily Tryc – Male Alternative Reproductive Tactics in Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) in Relation to Environmental Factors
  • Lauren Western - Shell Shapes in the Freshwater Gastropod Campeloma decisum in Insular Lakes Co-vary with Environmental Factors

2023 research mentors


A background in biology, chemistry, or environmental science​ with a strong interest in the chemical, physical and biological aspects of aquatic ecosystems. Applicants must provide their transcripts and 2-3 letters of recommendation.


During Summer 2024, each participant will receive a stipend of $5,750, lodging provided at CMU and at the CMU Biological Station, and meals provided in the cafeteria. Funding up to $500 is available to reimburse each participant for travel costs to the REU site.


Applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and who will be returning to their undergraduate program in Fall 2024 are eligible to apply. We strongly encourage applications from underrepresented groups (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and students from small colleges or 2-year programs whose research opportunities have been limited.


Please download, complete and submit the application as directed. Please download and forward the recommendation form to each person providing a recommendation for you.

(Please use Adobe Reader to complete your form, not the Apple Preview available on Mac computers.)

All application materials (application, transcripts and letters of recommendation) should be submitted by Friday, February 2, 2024. Email is preferable for all materials. Paper copies are acceptable but must be postmarked by the application deadline. Letters of recommendation (2-3) must be sent by those writing the recommendation, not by the applicant. For questions and to submit materials, please contact the program coordinator at iglr@cmich.edu

CMU Great Lakes REU
c/o Jessica Lapp
Brooks Hall 217
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859

We expect to extend offers of awards by mid March 2024. Please be patient during this process and feel free to contact the iglr@cmich.edu mailbox with questions.