BLaST Undergraduate Research Experience

Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences

BLaST Undergraduate Research Experience Students
Picture above: URE students at BLaST Orientation, August 24, 2017 - UAF Campus - Fairbanks, AK.

Announcement Date: January 29, 2018

Submission Date: February 25, 2018

Awards Announced: March 16, 2018 (estimated)

Funding Period: May 14, 2018 - August 12, 2018


Every facet of the United States scientific research enterprise—from basic laboratory research to clinical and translational research to policy formation–requires superior intellect, creativity and a wide range of skill sets and viewpoints. NIH’s ability to help ensure that the nation remains a global leader in scientific discovery and innovation is dependent upon a pool of highly talented scientists from diverse backgrounds who will help to further NIH's mission.

Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the researchers, advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in, and benefit from health research, and enhancing public trust.

The Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) program invites proposals for mentored undergraduate research projects. The overarching goal of BLaST is to enhance undergraduate training and mentoring in biomedical research through increased diversity of students, increased integration of research and teaching, and enhanced integration of rural campuses into a cohesive biomedical community in Alaska.


Current and prospective undergraduate students from Ilisagvik College, all UAS and UAF campuses, from all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, are invited to apply. To be eligible for a BLaST Undergraduate Research Experience, students must:

  • have an interest in biomedical or One Health research;
  • have a faculty mentor at their campus;
  • have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher;
  • and be enrolled at UAF, UAS, or Ilisagvik College.

BLaST is funded by the NIH, and the NIH encourages institutions to enhance the participation of individuals from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences, such as: 1) individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis [Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders]; 2) individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and 3) individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as (a) individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds periodically published at and (b) individuals who come from an educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that has demonstrably and directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.


The BLaST URE award is up to $5000 during the Summer of 2018.  Awards can be budgeted for research supplies and services, travel, and student salary (hourly compensation for a maximum of 40h/week).  To be eligible for salary (hourly compensation) or travel funding, the awardee must be a full-time student (enrolled for 12 credits during Summer 2018 and/or intend on enrolling full time during Fall 2018), be a US citizen or permanent resident, and be enrolled in an academic degree program in a biomedical field at UAF, UAS, or Ilisagvik College.


Some of the information on the application includes:

  • A description of the biomedical and One Health relevance of your project (200 words).
  • An essay describing your project which should include specific aims, significance of project, innovation, approach, and mentoring plan (500-800 words).
  • A budget with itemized total projected expenses up to $5000.

Compose these sections in a separate document, proofread and revise as needed, and then enter them on the application.

To apply complete the online Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) Application 

Click here for pdf version to prepare your proposal.

Applications are due by midnight February 25, 2018.


An ad hoc BLaST committee will review the applications.  Applications will be evaluated based on: 1) scientific merit; 2) quality of the training opportunity and mentoring plan; 3) biomedical or One Health relevance of the research; 4) applicant’s GPA; 5) written quality of the application; 6) and candidate background.


All safety training and any compliance committee approvals, such as Institutional Review Board or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, required of the undergraduate student or proposed project by your campus must be completed before any work can begin. Awardees must cooperate with BLaST staff to facilitate compliance with all the participant reporting and evaluation requirements of the NIH Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity grants.