Undergraduate Learning Experiences in working with Big Data in Agriculture

An 8-week summer internship supported by USDA-NIFA

Applications open!

We are delighted to open up for applications for the 2021 USDA-NIFA-REEU funded internship for undergraduate students.

The situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is unresolved. It will be continually monitored to determine whether the internship will be offered, offered in its intended structure, or offered in a modified form. We will provide updates by e-mail and on this website.

Apply now

Undergraduate Summer Internship

The Undergraduate Learning Experiences in working with Big Data in Agriculture Internship summer program aims to provide undergraduate students classroom and experiential learning experiences in working with big data relevant to agricultural research and extension.

Big data is being collected at scales previously unimaginable and is transforming research and extension in agriculture. Consequently, there is tremendous demand for scientists who have deep domain knowledge in the life sciences, skills in quantitative thinking, as well as sufficient abilities to communicate and work effectively within transdisciplinary teams. To help prepare students for the needs of the current workforce, we will provide students a hybrid course that integrates classroom learning experience with research experience.

Students will learn fundamentals to gain familiarity with skills and ethics of computational biology and train in research and extension labs to work with real world BIG datasets relevant to agriculture. Students will learn in peer cohorts and be mentored by groups of scientists who are linked on the basis of sharing common research interests.

Students will get first hand experience to gain an understanding of the scientific process, the appropriate use of quantitative methods, and an ability to work in teams and communicate effectively across disciplines.

How to Apply

Click here for instructions on how to complete an online application for the 2021 internship.



Each student awarded with an internship will receive a stipend of $1500 in addition to travel support and on-campus room and board.

Who can apply?

Undergraduate students from any US institution are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to students from traditionally underserved minorities, first-generation college students, and students from institutions with limited research opportunities.

Application deadline

Applications are due on Friday, February 26, 2021. Decisions will be made by Friday, April 30, 2021.

Summer Internship

In an 8-week summer program (June 14 through August 6, 2021) students will: 

  • Receive training in basic command line operations, data and software best practices, and application of FAIR data principles
  • Be mentored by cohorts of faculty
  • Analyze big data generated via use of cutting-edge technology and informatics facilities
  • Learn to work with data in team and individual settings
  • Learn communication and presentation skills
  • Showcase their work to the public at an end-of-program symposium
  • Expand their personal and professional network
  • Receive a stipend, and support for travel as well as room and board



2019 Program Overview

  • In the summer of 2019, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology (BPP) at Oregon State University, hosted 15 undergraduate students.
  • Diverse students majoring in the biological and computer sciences came from nine different institutions to engage in an enriching learning experience.
  • Students participated in an intensive two-week course to learn fundamentals in computational biology.
  • Students worked for approximately six weeks under the mentorship of faculty in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
  • Students applied their knowledge and used large biological datasets to address research questions important in food security and human health.

2019 Outcomes

  • The internship program was a powerful experience to help students learn methods that are accelerating research in the biological sciences.
  • The program established a foundation of skills and knowledge in biology, computational biology, and statistics and improved the ability of students to self-teach and advance themselves.
  • Students that participated are more prepared for working in large research teams and for success in graduate and professional school.
  • The program helped create new friendships and mentor-student relationships, both in the class and during field trips and social outings
  • Students present their work and reflect on their learning experience at the end of the internship.
  • Work of interns contributed to co-authorships on a paper as well as an abstract submitted for a talk at an International conference.

"The two-week course was thorough and provided the skills and resources needed in order to navigate through the remaining weeks of the internship. The course helped me to learn the basics of bioinformatics which greatly assisted me in figuring out the things I needed to do later on in the internship."

- Shawn McMurtrey, 2019 intern

"This was such an amazing experience and I definitely would recommend this internship to anyone who has: 1.) Wanted to conduct their own research project involving quantitative analysis on real data sets and 2.) Explore all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer!"

- Lin Thura, 2019 intern

Funding Support

BPP is supported by a grant from USDA-NIFA-REEU (2019-67032-29072). Funds were used to support travel, room and board, as well as a stipend for students.