Button to scroll to the top of the page.

Biodiversity Blog


Stengl-Wyer REU Program: supporting undergraduates in the natural sciences

REU students web
 Jenifer Dubon (left) and Jaylin Knight (right)

The Stengl-Wyer Endowment is the largest endowment in the history of the College of Natural Sciences. It supports UT Austin’s programming in ecology and biological research, with a focus on the study of the diversity of life and interactions between living things and their natural environments. Undergraduate students from across the country can apply for the Stengl-Wyer REU program: the Inclusive Student Training in Collections and field-based Topics (InSTInCT).

The goal of this 8-week program is to broaden the participation of historically-excluded groups in the natural sciences. Based on their interests, students are matched with a faculty member who introduces them to UT resources. Students also have the chance to meet other UT researchers, graduate students, and attend field trips. At the end of the program, students present their research, develop an understanding of graduate school applications, as well as what it's like to have a career as a scientist.

Jaylin Knight and Jenifer Fabian Dubon were two students who participated in the 2021 program.

Jaylin, a student at the University of Georgia, is a currently a junior. Her research project for the program involved creating linear models to estimate body sizes for lizards in the family Phrynosomatidae, a diverse family that includes the iconic horny toads. She measured 15 skeletal characters in over 200 specimens to determine which characteristics were best at estimating body size. Her work will be used to estimate the body sizes of fossil phrynosomatic lizards. 

Jenifer is a junior at Bryn Mawr College. She was involved in a project investigating how traditional pollinator restoration practices, such as burning, impact plant and pollinator communities in the Cross Timbers region of Texas and Oklahoma. Her independent research project sought to understand the effects of grassland restoration treatments on bumble bee populations.

Both students found the program to be extremely helpful for their goals.

Jenifer gained field work experience and inspiration from the passion of her mentors, Dr. Shalene Jha and Sean Griffin. She also found their encouragement to explore her other research interests to be beneficial for her career goals. She encourages future students of the program to be confident, enjoy the time they have in the program, and really explore different areas of their scientific interests.

Jaylin loved the tours of the Brackenridge Field Lab as well as the Pickle Research Campus which houses the Ichthyology and Herpetology collections in the Biodiversity Collections. She loved meeting her fellow program members to learn about their diverse work; from students working on pollinator conservation, studying fish brains, or working with specimens in a paleontology lab. She found the mentors to be very knowledgeable about what it means to be a scientist, and how to apply for graduate school. An extra perk was exploring the dynamic city of Austin, Texas, and who would not enjoy that?

To learn more about the program and find application instructions, visit this page.

The application deadline for the 2022 program is February 15, 2022.




Meet Stengl Wyer Fellow: Nick Ivers
What We Talk About When We Talk About Snakes

Related Posts


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment