Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

June 6 – August 12, 2022

Application period is now closed

NSF Logo REU Site: Botany and Conservation Biology Research at the Missouri Botanical Garden. (Supported by NSF award DBI-1559962)


Missouri Botanical Garden is pleased to announce the opening of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program that will provide research opportunities for 10 students, for 10 weeks during the summer of 2022. Students will work on independent mentored projects in plant systematics, conservation biology, and ethnobotany. Participants will have access to the Garden’s herbarium of more than 7 million specimens, an excellent botanical library, rich garden collections, a laboratory facilities for plant anatomy, microscopy, digital imaging, SEM, and DNA analysis, and the Shaw Nature Reserve – a 2,400 acre ecological preserve featuring prairie, forest, glades, wetlands, and 14 miles of hiking trails.


Students must be returning to an undergraduate degree program in the fall following the REU program. If you will be graduating in May or June in the year of the program, you are not eligible. To be eligible you must also be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.


REU interns receive food and lodging assistance, support for research, and a weekly $600 stipend.

Mentors and Projects

Students will work closely with a Ph.D. mentor from the Missouri Botanical Garden on an independent research project. Projects available in 2022 involve subjects including taxonomy (especially of plants from biodiverse tropical regions), restoration ecology, conservation biology, plant morphology, and emerging crops. Students will be trained in all aspects of research, including project design, background research using library and electronic resources, methods, data collection and analysis, and presentation of results in a poster, public research symposium, and possibly a published paper. Learn more

COVID guidelines and changes to online only

At this time, the REU coordinators are optimistic that the Garden will permit an onsite program to be held in summer 2022, but we cannot yet know the circumstances that will apply. Students will be expected to agree to comply with all public health measures and risk-reducing behaviors that may be required by city or state authorities or by the Garden, and strongly encouraged to adopt any that are not mandatory. In compliance with the Garden’s current health and safety guidelines, we are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination status for all in-person internships. As is always the case, the REU program cannot provide Garden visitors with health insurance, so students should be prepared to be responsible for seeking health care should they become ill during the program.

We are making contingency plans to offer an online, virtual program in case circumstances should force the cancellation of the onsite program. All of the projects being offered for 2022 could be converted to projects that could be worked on remotely, and meetings with mentors, educational sessions, and group social activities would be done virtually. In that event, we would request that NSF provide computer and internet services for anyone who did not already have adequate web access at home. However, at this time we consider it likely that an onsite program will be feasible, and encourage everyone to do their part to make it possible by mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing.

Additional Training

Students will also participate in professional enrichment sessions dedicated to a variety of topics, including improving writing skills, ethics in research, intellectual property rights, getting into graduate school, taking the GRE exam, graduate school options, conservation, and sustainable living. Students will participate in weekly Lunch and Learn sessions in which these subjects will be discussed. Students will also participate in field trips to local natural areas and cultural attractions. The REU program will be integrated with other ongoing MBG programs involving herbarium and garden support staff, high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, professional botanists, educators, and visitors.


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MBG Mission "to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life"