Model Programs: Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CRE or CURE)

Course-based research experiences (CREs; also known as Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences or CUREs) have dramatically improved the reach and impact of research experiences for undergraduates, especially for freshmen and sophomores. Several models of CREs that have been supported by HHMI, described below, provide similar benefits to students as traditional, apprentice-based research (in self-efficacy, skills, and persistence) but can be offered at scale with increased efficiency.

Science Education Alliance (SEA) Currently Accepting Applications

The Science Education Alliance is an HHMI program that supports faculty members in implementing CREs at their institutions. SEA is currently offering faculty members at all 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities the opportunity to join two national collaborative research projects, the Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (PHAGES) project and the Gene-function Exploration by a network of Emerging Scienitsts (GENES) project. Both projects are built around a national experiment in bacteriophage genomics developed by HHMI Professor Graham Hatfull. In the PHAGES project, students isolate, name, sequence, and analyze newly-discovered mycobacteriophages. In the GENES project, students experimentally explore the functions of phage-encoded genes. Faculty members that join these projects are trained at HHMI-sponsored workshops and receive year-round technical and programmatic support to implement these projects as course-based research experiences. To join the collaborative PHAGES and GENES research projects, visit the SEA.

Genomics Education Partnership (GEP)

Some institutions have re-designed and/or expanded introductory science laboratory courses to immerse undergraduates in authentic research experiences. The courses provide project-based and discovery-based studies or modules where the students’ research results benefit faculty members’ research. One model program, developed by HHMI Professor Sarah Elgin at Washington University in St. Louis, the Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), has demonstrated that a large-scale bioinformatics project can advance research, provide benefits to students, and be implemented across a wide variety of institutions. Learn more about the GEP here.

Freshman Research Initiative (FRI)

These institutions are providing first-year students the opportunity to initiate and engage in authentic research experiences. Students work in research streams under the guidance of their faculty and graduate student mentors in teams, and individual students can have their own independent projects with the potential to publish their work. The FRI began at UT Austin and is being adapted by a number of other schools. Learn more about FRI here.