• Joshua VanSlambrouck inoculates bacterial cell cultures to express proteins

  • Jackson Distelrath, Jake Johnstick, and Mara Smith inspect tomato plants for signs of nutrient deficiencies

  • The Lu Lab uses chlorophyll fluorescence analysis to determine the effects of the environmental contaminant PFOA to plant growth and photosynthesis

  • Kyle Burlison, Emily Minnick, and Danica Pallett measure photosynthesis in soybean and corn plants with help from graduate student Alex Kolstoe

  • Annual Biological Sciences Research Mixer

Research Experiences for Teachers in the Biology of Plants, Animals, Microorganisms, and their Environments

Program Description

This National Science Foundation funded BIORETS program at WMU provides middle and high school science teachers in Southwest Michigan with authentic research experience and transformative curricular improvement and professional development opportunities. The center piece of the program is a seven-week summer experience for 12 teachers per year in June to August, in the laboratories of WMU faculty mentors. These research projects revolve around a unifying theme: how biological organisms interact with other organisms and their environments. Here is the 2022 program poster.

The summer research experience will be complemented with faculty research seminars, professional development workshops, demonstrations of hands-on laboratory teaching modules, lunch-time discussions on research and curricular development, written curricular materials, poster presentations on research and curricular development, and fall semester classroom visits. 
Each teacher accepted by the program receives a stipend of $7,560 (half disbursed in the middle of the program and the other half at the conclusion of the program). We will also reimburse for teachers' daily commuting mileage during the seven-week summer program. We are looking for highly motivated teachers who plan to translate what they learn from the BIORETS program into curricular changes. Such changes are expected to help teachers to: (a) enrich classroom teaching practices; (b) deepen students' research literacy and engagement in STEM classes; and (c) inspire a diverse population of students to pursue higher education and careers in STEM, especially biology and biology-related fields.

For more information, please contact the program director Dr. Yan Lu ( or co-director Dr. Silvia Rossbach ( 

Schedule for Summer 2022

Program activities


Potential pre-session campus visits

Mar – early Apr

Deadline for teacher applications

Apr 15

Review of applications and final selection


Offers to candidates

May 2 - May 6

Deadline for acceptance

May 20

Teacher check-in and meeting with faculty mentors

Jun 20

Orientation, trainings, and barbecue in a local park

Jun 20 - Jun 27

Independent research, research seminars, professional development workshops, teaching module demonstrations, and lunch-time discussions

Jun 20 – Aug 5

Submission of final written curricular materials, and poster presentation session

Aug 5

Faculty mentors conduct a fall semester classroom visit

Sept - Dec

 Application Information

Please e-mail the following application materials to by April 15:

·       A brief resume which includes your academic and work history.

·       A one-page personal statement. You may explain: (1) the science classes and the student body that you teach; (2) why you are interested in this BIORETS program; and (3) what do you hope to learn from this program for yourself and your students.

·       A filled Teacher Participant Application Form.

Please have a letter of recommendation from your principal sent directly to This letter may include demographic information of students in the school district (e.g., percentages of underrepresented or economically disadvantaged students). This program strives to broaden participation of under-represented groups in STEM fields and promote the development of a diverse and competitive future STEM workforce. Students are the workforce of the future.

WMU Faculty Mentors involved in BIORETS

 This program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) BIORETS program grant number DBI-2146882.