Early experiences can really have a formative impact on a person's life, even or perhaps especially when it comes to career trajectories. I had several exciting exposures to sciences as a child and teen and in college - most of those experiences were related to animals, ecology, and the environment. But I could have easily been tracked into geology and speleology. I was a notoriurous rock collector as a kid. I 'discovered' that railroad tracks were ALWAYS the best place to excavate rocks. Later a jr high, I went on a science club field trip and I visited a cave for the first time and I was enraptured. Maybe it was the lighting on the stalactites and stalagmites, maybe it was the interpreter, but either way I love it; and I had I gotten more exposure to geology, then I certainly could have been blogging about urban fossils instead. That's just how powerful engaging experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can be.

And I felt a similar feeling of excitement and wistfulness when I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Research Institute last summer.

Disclaimer: I like museums and nature-themed centers any way. I always have. But that Aquarium and the Research institute is something of a dream -- in the professional sense. What I witnessed was amazing interpretive displays for the public and an inclusive outreach program. Moreover, the research they do is top-notch, integrative and has amazing financial and physical support. They have there own in-house machine shop. I mean really, how can you not love that? Sometimes I wish could go back in time or access an parallel universe and live out my other science research dreams. If so, then I would definitely take advantage of this research opportunity for undergraduate students.

The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program, to support eight internships for undergraduate student research at BIOS during fall 2014. An REU internship at BIOS is a great way to gain the experience necessary to embark on graduate studies or careers in the marine and atmospheric sciences. Funding includes air travel to Bermuda, tuition, accommodation and meals. Each successful REU applicant will also receive a stipend to cover miscellaneous expenses.

This program provides recipients with the opportunity to design and conduct intensive, hands-on research projects, under faculty supervision and mentorship, in several active and ongoing research areas. In 2014, students can select from the following projects:

Genetic diversity and connectivity of the invasive lionfish population in Bermuda

Light-Use Efficiency of Coral Reef Communities

Phenology of Coral Pigments

Spectroscopic Analysis of Water-Soluble Organic Compounds in Marine Aerosols

Regeneration, repair and negligible senescence: insight from the sea urchin

Microbial degradation of Lignin

The abundance of archaea and bacteria at the BATS site

The microbial consortium of the fire sponge

Rapid Assessment of Ichthyofauna Assemblages in Bermuda's Mesophotic Zone

Using the instrumental record to evaluate changing Atlantic ocean properties

The effect of light and feeding on juvenile coral growth

Estimation of local terrestrial input to atmospheric samples collected at the Tudor Hill Marine Atmospheric Observatory

Applicants eligibility:

Must have completed at least one year of undergraduate study

Will still be enrolled as an undergraduate in the fall of 2014 (no graduates, sorry)

U.S. citizen or permanent resident

The application deadline is May 30th, 2014. Successful applicants are encouraged to arrange for independent study credit through their home institutions. Students from under-represented groups are especially encouraged to submit applications.

Further information on the REU program at BIOS can be found here . Strong applications include selecting a possible mentor and project, so check out student testimonials and more detail on potential projects here. If you are wondering what it would be like to spend a semester in Bermuda and at BIOS, then check out the REU Facebook page where you can meet former REU interns, find out about previous projects, see photos of REU interns conducting their research, read testimonials, meet the advisers, and more.