Students in a laboratory looking through a microscope

NSF REU Summer Integrative Neuroscience Experience

Florida Atlantic University will host the Summer Integrative Neuroscience Experience (SINE) at the John D. MacArthur Campus at Jupiter. The program consists of an intensive program that provides opportunities for talented undergraduate students from across the country to participate in cutting edge neuroscience research.

Students will have the opportunity to work in laboratories at FAU Jupiter, Scripps Research or the Max Plank Florida Institute for Neuroscience. The on-campus research will focus on the following neuroscience areas: synaptic function, behavioral pharmacology, neurogenetics and systems neuroscience. Students will also participate in workshops that provide a broad background in scientific communication, research approaches, and responsible conduct in research.


  • This paid, ten-week program focuses on training, mentoring, research and an overall experience for students that prepares them for graduate studies or careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) disciplines.
  • Participants will typically work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with one hour for lunch.
  • Undergraduate researchers are paid $600/week along with a $25/week meal allowance, per week.
  • Participants will be housed in apartment-style dormitories on FAU’s Jupiter Campus, just three miles from the beach.
  • Students will work in laboratories at FAU Jupiter, Scripps Research, or the Max Plank Florida Institute for Neuroscience, and have the opportunity to interact with other FAU REU programs.



Dr. Carmen Varella, Dissecting the Cellular and Molecular Contribution of the Thalamus to Learning and Memory in Rodents.
One of the goals in our lab is to figure out how the cells and networks of the thalamus contribute to learning and memory. Ongoing projects include the characterization of synaptic changes induced by thalamocortical oscillations, as well as determining the molecular and cellular basis for bursting activity in the thalamus. Preference will be given to students with direct experience using histological techniques (brain sectioning, immunohistochemistry, proteomics) and/or behavioral training of rodents. Additional information at

Dr. Johanna Kowalko, The Genetics of Aggression and Social Behavior
Our laboratory focuses on understanding how genetic variation contributes to behavioral diversity. We study this in the small freshwater fish Astyanax mexicanus, a species of fish that exists in two forms, a river dwelling surface form and multiple populations of a blind cave form that have evolved a variety of behavioral changes relative to their surface fish counterparts. We employ functional genetic methods, including transgenesis and CRISPR/Cas9, to investigate the genetic underpinnings of behavioral evolution in this species.

Dr. Robert Stackman, Neural circuits influencing hippocampal-dependent learning and memory in mice
The project is to examine the contribution of the locus coeruleus-hippocampus dopaminergic circuit to the consolidation of non-spatial and spatial memory in mice. We have determined that consolidation of hippocampal-dependent object memory in mice is significantly enhanced by the post-training activation of dopamine D1 receptors. A similar enhancement in object memory consolidation was observed in mice that were briefly exposed to a novel context after training. We are now testing the effects of manipulating the locus coeruleus-hippocampus circuit to determine its participation in these modulatory effects on memory.

Dr. Henriette Van Praag, The effects of exercise on Alzheimer’s progression
This project aims to evaluate how exercise and myokines may modify memory function, adult hippocampal neurogenesis, neurotrophin levels and pathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Both in vivo and in vitro approaches will be utilized.

Dr. Erik Duboue, The effects of early life stress on brain development
Exposure to stress in early life can impact brain development and adult behavior, yet surprisingly little is known about the cellular mechnisms of this effect. We have found that zebrafish exposed to stress early in life, have elevated levels of stress hormones and heightened response to stressful stimuli as adults. This project will use whole-brain imaging to examine the effects of early life stress on brain structure and function.

Dr. Alex Keene, Genetic and neural regulation of sleep
Disrupted sleep is thought to contribute to many metabolic diseases including diabetes, obesity and heart disease. We have found that flies, like mammals, suppress sleep when starved, providing a system to interrogate sleep-metabolism interactions. We have performed a screen to identify novel regulators of sleep-metabolism interactions and are currently investigating the genes and neural circuits that integrate these processes. This project will use genetic approaches in fly or fish models to identify novel genes and neurons that underlie these interactions. The project will provide the opportunity for the application of state-of-the-art microscopy and genetic approaches to manipulate brain function.

Dr. Greg Macleod, Synaptic Physiology
Using genetic engineering in fruit flies and cutting-edge biophysical techniques we seek answers to some of the most fundamental questions in neuroscience. For example: How does a nerve cell obtain the energy required to power its activities? How does a nerve cell control its acid/base balance? How does the aging process lead to a loss of performance?

Dr. Courtney Miller (Scripps)
The Miller Lab is working to develop new therapeutics in the areas of substance use disorder (addiction), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and brain cancer. Additional areas of basic biology focus on the prenatal effects of opioid exposure on brain wiring and the neuronal ensembles that regulate drug seeking behavior.



Fill out the online application here.  In addition, submit the following information to

  • One-page statement of interest that describes your motivations, expectations and long-term objectives.



Application Deadline: March 7, 2021
First Round Notification Date: March 15, 2021
Start Date: May 29, 2021
End Date: August 3, 2021



  • Undergraduate students majoring in science or engineering.
  • U.S. Citizen or permanent resident.
  • Minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply.



For additional information please contact Bethany Stanhope, executive director of academic operations at Jupiter or Glenn Malone, assistant director, Biological Sciences.