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.


Crop Genetics and Genomics II (CGGv2)

Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates (REEU)


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 2023! Students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply. 

Program description: 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 ‘Plant Breeding’ field trip 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 $5,100 stipend. We cover dorm rooms for all students, plus a small meal allowance.

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

Jill Anderson

  • Eco-evolutionary responses to global change
  • Effects of temperature and drought on plant functional traits, physiology, and fitness

Robin Buell

  • Plant genome biology with a focus on crops and medicinal plants
  • Synthetic biology 
  • Evolution of natural product biosynthesis

Anny Chung

  •  Investigating leaf and root endophytic fungal communities in different genotypes of bioenergy sorghum using culture-based methods
  • Culture-based functional assays of soil and root microbes
  • Characterization of common mycorrhizal networks between plant hosts

Dan Johnson

  • Tree physiological responses to heat and drought
  • Mechanisms of tree mortality due to stress
  • Tree water use

Brian Kvitko

  • Genetic identification of plant pathogenic bacteria recovered from the stratosphere.

Jim Leebens-Mack

  •  A collaborative project to work with others in the lab on gene capture and sequence analysis for species phylogeny estimation. Possible taxa include Asparagus (Asparagaceae), redbuds (Cercis, Fabaceae),   and North American pitcher plants (Sarracenia, Sarraceniaceae).
  • A collaborative project to assess plant genome annotations and characterize gene duplication and loss across land plants (see phytozome-next.jgi.doe.gov/ogg/).

Cecilia McGregor

  • Project focused on watermelon or squash molecular breeding for disease resistance and horticultural traits.

Ali Missaoui

  • Grass endophyte interactions
  • Genomic selection in biomass and forage crops
  • Auxin herbicides resistance in white clover

Melissa Mitchum

  • Molecular plant-nematode interactions

Brad Nelms

  • Plant genomics
  • Pollen development
  • Reprogramming cell fate

Wayne Parrott

  • A range of topics related to plant biotechnology and the bacterial tools used for biotechnology. Emphasis on plant biotechnology, including editing and transgene characterization.

Shavannor Smith

  • Characterization of population structure and evolution of rust fungal isolates and plant genotypes to understand and improve plant resistance.

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

Breeanna Urbanowicz

  • Investigating enzymes involved in the synthesis of complex carbohydrates that make up the plant cell wall.
  • Development and optimization of new techniques for heterologous expression of plant enzymes for higher throughput biochemical workflows.
  • Valorization of plant biomass into bioplastics and materials. Develop biomass-based composites for 3D printing.

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.

Jason Wallace

  • Analysis of plant and soil microbiomes. (Computation-focused.)
  • Characterization of bacteria and fungi isolated from corn seeds.

Li Yang

  • Investigate the correlation between aging and disease resistance in plants
  •  Explore how microbes influence plant regeneration.
  • Identify growth-promoting bacteria for peanut


  • 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 27 to July 26, 2024
  • 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 1, 2024 for summer 2024

Application process: 1) complete the application form here, 2) arrange to have two letters of recommendation (Letter of Recommendation 2023) 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.

Read more about previous CGG fellows and their accomplishments here.

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

“This program set me up with valuable research skills and connections to industry researchers that became wonderful mentors for me in the years to follow my time as a REEU fellow.” – Douglas Vines; Borlaug Scholar