Undergraduate Research

ambrosia stem cell

Faculty affiliated with the Plant Center are committed to training the next generation of scientific researchers.

Plant Center faculty have been very successful in undergraduate training, with hundreds of examples of students who have worked in member labs as a stepping stone to prepare the for graduate school or a career in a biomedical field. There are also countless examples of students who began with an interest in medicine only to change their minds and go on to become successful plant scientists.  Visit our member page to find faculty research areas that align with your interests.  Contact faculty directly to find out if they can provide research opportunities for you in their labs.


Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates (REEU)

Crop Genetics and Genomics


Are you an undergraduate interested in plant biology, crop genomics, feeding the future and improving fibers, fuels, or forest materials?

We are currently recruiting Fellows for Summer 2020! Students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.


Program description: Ten first- and second-year undergraduate Fellows will work on research projects for 9 weeks this summer with Plant Center faculty mentors in hands-on laboratory and field-based research experiences in crop genetics and genomics. Find more information about faculty research areas here: Faculty research.

Fellows will also take part in a 2-day, hands-on ‘Plant Breeding Practicum’ field course to learn firsthand how genetic and genomics research is used to improve crop cultivars. In addition, Fellows will participate in a service-learning project to develop an understanding of the connection between research, extension and crop production. Professional development opportunities covering career options, research ethics, networking, and science and public communication are also part of the program. Our primary mission is to develop plant scientists that can address the challenges facing US agricultural competitiveness and food production.

All students are supported with a $4,500 stipend. We cover dorm rooms for non-UGA students, plus a small meal allowance.

The exact research project and matching of fellows with mentors will be worked out later.

Jessica Barb
  • Characterization of pollinator attractiveness in sunflower and/or characterization of pearl millet varieties for traits that are desirable in forage or grain types.
Alexander Bucksch
  • Projects will focus on phenomics analyses that combine computers and plants to gather data from digital images to better understand plant traits.
Katrien Devos
  • Trait analysis in switchgrass. This involves scoring of heading date and other traits in the field and conduct bioinformatics analyses to find regions of the genome controlling the traits of interest.
  • Fine-mapping the Br1 gene in pearl millet. This involves screening a large population with molecular markers to identify plants carrying a recombination event in the Br1 region, growing and phenotyping the plants for panicle bristle length, and develop and test new molecular markers for the Br1 region.
Daniel Johnson
  • Projects will focus on tree drought and mortality or conifer leaf anatomy and physiology
Brian Kvitko
  • Study the variation and evolution of plant disease potential onto a new host plant in a group of closely related bacteria.
  • Characterize variation in a rare plant immune receptor found in tobacco and sunflower that confers resistance to diverse bacterial plant pathogens.
Jim Leebens-Mack
  • A collaborative project to work with others in the lab on gene capture and sequence analysis.
Cecilia McGregor
  • A project focused on disease resistance in watermelon involving pathogen detection methods, pathogen inoculation methodologies or evaluation of plant resistance.
Wayne Parrott
  • A range of topics from insect resistance to plant genetics and biotechnology. Emphasis on aspects of plant biotechnology, including editing and transgene characterization.
Shavannor Smith
  • Characterization of population structure and evolution of rust fungus isolates and plant genotypes.
Andrea Sweigart
  • Understanding the genetic and evolutionary mechanisms of speciation in Mimulus (monkeyflowers).
CJ Tsai
  • CRISPR genome editing and mutant characterization
  • Growth and defense tradeoff characterization at molecular, physiological and anatomical levels
  • Metabolite profiling of plant stress responses
Jason Wallace
  • Testing maize (corn) for interactions with bacteria
Esther van der Knaap
  • Genetic characterization of fruit weight and flavor in tomato. Laboratory and field experiments to study the inheritance of fruit weight and volatile production.
Li Yang
  • Investigate the correlation between aging and disease resistance in a natural population
  • Determine how bacteria influence plant regeneration.


  • Currently finishing your first or second year of college courses (sophomore or junior standing by summer) is preferred
  • US citizenship or permanent residency is required
  • You must be available for the full 9 weeks from May 18 to July 18, 2020
  • Demonstrated interest in agrisciences or majoring in biology, plant biology, genetics, horticulture, microbiology, life sciences, or agricultural sciences

Application deadline: all materials are due by March 2, 2020 for summer 2020

Application process: 1) complete the application form here, 2) arrange to have two letters of recommendation (Letter of Recommendation 2020) submitted to uga.plant.reeu@gmail.com, 3) submit your most recent transcript (unofficial copy okay) to uga.plant.reeu@gmail.com with your name in the subject line

Contacts: Dr. Marin Brewer, mtbrewer@uga.edu, 706-542-1254; Dr. CJ Tsai cjtsai@uga.edu, 706-542-1271

“The connections and the experiences that I have gained from Dr. Parrott’s and Dr. Missaoui’s labs have helped me become a better informed and more driven in my goals” –  Tate Hutwagner