BLaST Undergraduate Research Experience

Academic Year 2023-2024 Undergraduate Research Experience

Applications accepted April 3 – May 28, 2023


Every facet of the United States scientific research enterprise—from basic laboratory research to clinical and translational research to policy formation–requires superior intellect, creativity and a wide range of skill sets and viewpoints. NIH’s ability to help ensure that the nation remains a global leader in scientific discovery and innovation is dependent upon a pool of highly talented scientists from diverse backgrounds who will help to further NIH's mission.

Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the researchers, advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in, and benefit from health research, and enhancing public trust.

The Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) program invites proposals for mentored undergraduate research projects. The overarching goal of BLaST is to enhance hands-on undergraduate training and mentoring in biomedical research through increased diversity of students, increased integration of research and teaching, and enhanced integration of rural campuses into a cohesive biomedical community in Alaska and our partner campuses.


Current and prospective undergraduate students from Fort Lewis College, Salish Kootenai College, Diné College, Alaska Pacific University, Iḷisaġvik College, all UAS and UAF campuses, from all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, are invited to apply. To be eligible for a BLaST Undergraduate Research Experience, students must:

  • Have an interest in biomedical or One Health research,
  • Have a faculty mentor at their campus,
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher, and
  • Be enrolled at Fort Lewis College, Salish Kootenai College, Diné College, Alaska Pacific University, Iḷisaġvik College, UAS or UAF.

BLaST is funded by the NIH, and the NIH encourages institutions to enhance the participation of individuals from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences, such as:

1) Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis [Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders],

2) Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and,

3) Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as:

             (a) Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds periodically published at and,

             (b) Individuals who come from an educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that has demonstrably and directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.


The BLaST URE award is up to $5,000 during the academic year for the two semesters of Fall and Spring, and up to $2,500 for the Spring semester.  Awards can be budgeted for research supplies and services, travel, and student salary (hourly compensation for a maximum of 20  hours/week).  To be eligible for salary (hourly compensation) or travel funding, the awardee must be a full-time student (enrolled and maintained for 12 credits at Fort Lewis College, Salish Kootenai College, Diné College, Alaska Pacific University, Iḷisaġvik College, UAS or UAF campuses during the 2023/2024 academic year) and be a US citizen or permanent resident.


The following information is required on the application: (link will open April 3 – May 28, 2023)

  • Your mentor must complete a BLaST Mentor Confirmation form prior to the application deadline. This form can be found at
  • A description of the biomedical and One Health relevance of your project (200 words).
  • An essay describing your project which should include specific aims, the significance of the project, innovation, approach, and mentoring plan (500-800 words).
  • A list of Literature References.
  • A budget with an itemized of total projected expenses up to $5,000

    Compose these sections in a separate document, proofread and revise as needed, and then enter them on the application. For any questions, contact Lori Gildehaus, 

    Apply here: BLaST GY10 Summer URE Application (

    PDF version of the application is also available to help you prepare your proposal.


    All safety training and any compliance committee approvals, such as Institutional Review Board or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, required of the undergraduate student or proposed project by your campus must be completed before any work can begin. Awardees must cooperate with BLaST staff to facilitate compliance with all the participant reporting and evaluation requirements of the NIH Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity grants.

    As noted above, consideration must also include possible COVID based requirements for your campus that could be applicable in Fall 2023. If those conditions are not known at this time, a statement must be provided with your application that the project will abide by the applicable regulations.

    Apply Here