How do we do this at a distance?! A descriptive study of remote undergraduate research programs during COVID-19 Institutional Repository Document uri icon


  • ABSTRACTThe COVID-19 pandemic shut down undergraduate research programs across the U.S. Twenty-three sites offered remote undergraduate research programs in the life sciences during summer 2020. Given the unprecedented offering of remote research experiences, we carried out a study to describe and evaluate these programs. Using structured templates, we documented how programs were designed and implemented, including who participated. Through focus groups and surveys, we identified programmatic strengths and shortcomings as well as recommendations for improvements from the perspectives of participating students. Strengths included the quality of mentorship, opportunities for learning and professional development, and development of a sense of community. Weaknesses included limited cohort building, challenges with insufficient structure, and issues with technology. Although all programs had one or more activities related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, these topics were largely absent from student reports even though programs coincided with a peak in national consciousness about racial inequities and structural racism. Our results provide evidence for designing remote REUs that are experienced favorably by students. Our results also indicate that remote REUs are sufficiently positive to further investigate their affordances and constraints, including the potential to scale up offerings, with minimal concern about disenfranchising students.

altmetric score

  • 10.434

author list (cited authors)

  • Erickson, O. A., Cole, R. B., Isaacs, J. M., Alvarez-Clare, S., Arnold, J., Augustus-Wallace, A., ... Dolan, E. L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Erickson, Olivia A||Cole, Rebecca B||Isaacs, Jared M||Alvarez-Clare, Silvia||Arnold, Jonathan||Augustus-Wallace, Allison||Ayoob, Joseph C||Berkowitz, Alan||Branchaw, Janet||Burgio, Kevin R||Cannon, Charles H||Ceballos, Ruben Michael||Cohen, C Sarah||Coller, Hilary||Disney, Jane||Eggers, Margaret J||Farina, Stacy||Ferguson, Edwin L||Gray, Jeffrey J||Greenberg, Jean T||Hoffman, Alexander||Jensen-Ryan, Danielle||Kao, Robert M||Keene, Alex C||Kowalko, Johanna E||Lopez, Steven A||Mathis, Camille||Minkara, Mona||Murren, Courtney J||Ondrechen, Mary Jo||Ordoñez, Patricia||Osano, Anne||Padilla-Crespo, Elizabeth||Palchoudhury, Soubantika||Qin, Hong||Ramírez-Lugo, Juan||Reithel, Jennifer||Shaw, Colin A||Smith, Amber||Smith, Rosemary||Summers, Adam P||Tsien, Fern||Dolan, Erin L

Book Title

  • bioRxiv

publication date

  • May 2021