Undergraduate Positions

The Parasitic Behavioral Manipulation Lab at the University of Central Florida supports postdoctoral, doctoral and undergraduate research. The integrative nature of our research makes for a vibrant lab with researchers from various backgrounds and with a variety of research interests. Our lab is an inclusive workplace where everyone can feel comfortable being their authentic selves. We value our differences and believe that learning and sharing ideas across race, gender, age, religion, identity, nationality, and experiences makes us all better scientists and human beings. If you are interested in becoming part of our research team, please, carefully read and follow the application information below.

Background Information

Infected animals often behave differently from healthy animals. These changes can involve precise manipulations caused by parasites to increase that parasite’s chances to spread. How exactly manipulative parasites can alter host behavior is largely unknown. Our lab uses the fungus-infected “zombie ants” as a model to fill this knowledge gap. We love to use a variety of tools and research disciplines within the broad field of biology to answer our research questions. As such, the undergraduate researchers in our lab might work on a smaller, more specific project or organism, but will still get exposed to a range of interesting research perspectives from other scientists in the lab. Does that sound like an exciting environment to learn more about research and become part of the scientific process? Then, keep on reading!

Prospective Undergraduate Researchers

Prospective students who fit well within our lab are curious, motivated to learn new skills, and passionate about science. Students will get experience working as part of a team as well as independently. Students will also get the opportunity to participate in scientific outreach and to present their work at the Showcase for Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE).

To be considered for an undergraduate position, you should have a strong interest in at least one of the following:

  • the molecular workings of parasite-host interactions and parasitic manipulations,
  • ant behavior
  • fungal biology
  • circadian biology
  • quantitative behavioral analyses and programming (i.e., behavioral tracking and coding to analyze data),
  • genomics, transcriptomics and bioinformatics
  • molecular biology (e.g., gene-editing technology, molecular microbiology, microscopy)

How to apply?

Space for undergraduate students in the Parasitic Behavioral Manipulation Lab is limited. The number of students joining the lab in any given semester is directly dependent on the number of current students, and research project needs. To find out if Dr. de Bekker is considering taking new undergraduate researchers for the following semester, you are welcome to email her. But, please, be patient. Dr. de Bekker receives a large number of emails from prospective students and may not be able to respond to everyone.

In your email include the following:

Undergraduate Research: UCF Resources

Information on how to get involved in undergraduate research at UCF

Funding opportunities at UCF for undergraduate researchers

  • UCF has several scholarships and paid opportunities for undergraduate researchers.
    You might be eligible to apply for some of them. More information can be found here
  • If you are a student who is receiving financial aid, you might also be eligible to receive a Federal Work Study Award and get paid for your research efforts.
    More information on FWS can be found here
  • Once you have taken the first steps and are involved in research, there are plenty of other opportunities opening up for you, such as applying for awards, presenting your work, receiving course credit and taking on leadership positions.
    For information on these opportunities, follow this link