FIU’s Coastal Ecosystems REU site will be postponed until the Summer of 2023.  Check back in the Fall of 2022 to get more information about the 2023 application timeline and deadlines.


The Coastal Ecosystems Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site program is a 10-week paid research fellowship located on the campuses of Florida International University in Miami, FL. This year's program runs from May 22, 2023 - July 28, 2023.

National Science Foundation and FIU Institute of Environment logos

The Research Theme of the REU Site is the ecology of coastal ecosystems across gradients of human impact.  Specifically, our research looks at coastal ecosystems ecology, environmental aquatic chemistry, and the connections among the Everglades wetlands, coastal mangrove forests, seagrass beds and shallow water coral reefs. Our goal is to detect the sources, transport and transformation of environmental stressors and the ecosystem responses under rapid changing climate and land-use. The hydrologic connectivity between the natural, agricultural, and urban landscapes results in a highly complex network of contaminant and pollutant sources that are transported throughout a heavily managed water landscape.

In the context of these connected, coastal ecosystems and their importance to human health and wellbeing, it is critical to understand the ecological, hydrological and biogeochemical processes that govern the fate of environmental stressors and their impacts on the coastal ecosystems.

The summer fellowship will include a stipend of $6500 for successful completion of the full 10-week program. The fellowship also includes full room and board and travel to/from the FIU campuses: the Modesto A. Maidique Campus in west Miami-Dade County, and the Biscayne Bay Campus in north Miami-Dade.


The program is comprehensively studying the ecology of coastal ecosystems. These efforts examine the changes across gradients of human impact among the Everglades, wetlands, coastal mangrove forests, seagrass beds and shallow water coral reef systems.  Within this context we ask mentors to build capacity across the following program elements:

  • Research: Extend research expertise to undergraduates working on individual or group projects with the guidance from both a Lead Faculty Scientists and a Near-Peer Mentor. 
  • Education: Lead Faculty Scientists and Near-Peer Mentors establish regular meetings and lab schedules to share successes and learn from challenges, leverage programmatic resources, and build a positive learning experience for the undergraduate students.
  • Community: Build a sense of community among undergraduate participants all dedicated to advancing scientific research.
  • Professional Development: Encourage and/or volunteer expertise to help undergraduates develop the skills and dispositions as professionals.   Weekly workshops include scientific writing, the science of the Everglades, data management and statistical analysis, making and giving good presentations, GRFP applications, building CV’s and resumes


Important Dates


Application: Dec 5th – February 3rd

Application Reviewed: Month of February March 1 – 10: Mentors will interview top candidates

Mid-March: Candidates will be notified of acceptances/rejections

Program Dates: May 22nd – July 28th (10 weeks)

Orientation: Monday May 22nd

Poster Session: Thursday July 27th

Symposium: Friday July 28th

Lead ScientistNear Pear Mentor(s)ResearchWebsite


John Kominoski

  •  Liz Ortiz,
  •  Kevin Montenegro,
  •  Jordon King,
  •  Veronica Restrepo

Our research explores various scales of organic matter processing along gradients of environmental drivers within and among ecosystems, testing two main questions:

o How do disturbances drive changes in autotrophic, heterotrophic, and net ecosystem productivity and carbon storage?

o How do disturbances interact with long-term environmental changes to affect ecosystem functions, specifically the loss, storage, and movement of carbon (energy) and nutrients within and among ecosystems?




Jennifer Rehage

  •  Nicholas Castillo (G)
  •  Ryan W. James (PD)
Our research takes a holistic approach to studying fish, integrating from the behavior of individuals to populations and entire fish communities and their effects and responses to ecosystem processes, their interactions, and responses to both natural and human disturbances, and extending to the human dimensions of fish- involving anglers in science and understanding their knowledge and perceptions.Website


Diego Salazar-Amoretti

  •  Leslie Roque
We study the effects of changes in salinity and water availability on chemically mediates plant-species interactions. We use experimental methods to assess how salt and water stress break down importance ecosystem processes herbivory, pollination, pathogens, and symbiosis.Website


Mark Butler

  • Leah Cifers
  • Mary Williams (G)
Research focuses on the Ecology of the Caribbean Kind Crab and its use in Coral Reef Restoration and the Biology and Ecology of Spiny Lobsters and their Roles in Coral Reef Associated EcosystemsWebsite


Natalia Soares Quinete

  • Daniel Ogunbiyi
Monitoring and assessment of the occurrence, fate and transport of PFAS in environmental and biological samplesWebsite


James Fourqurean

  • Treiana Zuill(G)
Investigates biogeochemical cycling, ecological competition and food web structure in shallow water coastal marine ecosystems, with an emphasis on seagrass meadows and mangrove forests around the world and the cycling and sequestration of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. (Diving certification may be required).Website


Piero Gardinali

  • Kassidy Troxell (G)
Research focuses on the use of advanced analytical chemistry techniques such as high- resolution mass spectrometry to address environmental problems related to the release of treated or untreated domestic wastewater, agricultural and urban storm water runoff to coastal environmentsnone


Kevin Boswell

  • Nick Tucker (G)
Research focuses on understanding the abiotic and biological factors that mediate the distribution, behavioral patterns, energetics and natural ecology of oceanic and coastal marine animals and studies these processes using advanced technologies, with a primary focus on acoustic methodologiesWebsite


Mike Ross

  • Melinda Paduani (G)
Institute of Environment is one of several research labs associated with the Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC). We take a field-oriented, multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the terrestrial* ecosystems of southern Florida, from the Lower Keys to Biscayne Bay, and from flooded herbaceous wetlands to forested uplands in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National PreserveWebsite


Justin Campbell

  • William Wied(G)
Description coming…Website


Shahin Vassigh

  • Lila Wu (G)
  • Elena Tugusheva (G)
Research is focused on data visualization techniques for educational purposes. Utilizing advanced media and computer applications, she has produced a number of software applications to help students to better understand the complex challenges of developing sustainable built environments.Website


Jose Eirin-Lopez

  • Serena Hackerott (G)
The central goal of our research is to investigate the cause-effect relationships between environmental stressors resulting from global change (e.g., harmful algal blooms, nutrient loading, ocean acidification, thermal stress, etc.) and the subsequent epigenetic mechanisms regulating physiological responses in marine life.Website


Tiffany Troxler

  • Marbelys Garriga (G)
Research focus is on wetland ecosystems ecology and informs management and restoration of coastal / freshwater wetland ecosystems. Current efforts examine the effects of salinity inundation associated with sea level rise on soil carbon balance in the Everglades coastal wetlands, and it contribution to a collaborative project led by the USGS to scale coastal carbon stocks and fluxes using remote sensing products.Website


Javier Rodriguez Casariego

  • Near Peer Mentor
Studying how epigenetic mechanisms modulate responses to environmental stress in “key marine organisms” – those capable of creating and maintaining ecosystems – which are critically impacted by global climate change.Website


Michael Heithaus

  • Near Peer Mentor
specializing in predator-prey interactions and the ecological importance of sharks and other large marine species, Heithaus is the principal investigator and co-principal investigator on grants totaling $28 million. His research leverages a number of cutting-edge technologies, including drones and animal-borne cameras, to unravel the mysterious lives of hard-to-study marine creatures.Website


Alastair Harborne 

  • Near Peer
Works on a variety of topics related to the ecology and behavior of Caribbean and Pacific coral reef fishes, and the impacts of environmental change. A key aim of our research is to assist reef conservation.Website


Rolando Santos

  • Nicholas Rivas
We seek a motivated student interested in marine science and coral reef ecology for an REU position in the Santos’ lab to work with Dr. Rolando O. Santos, Dr. W. Ryan James, and Nicolas Rivas. A recent Diadema antillarum (black or long-spinned urchin) die-off in Caribbean provides the conditions of a natural removal experiment useful to understand the top-down control exertion of this herbivore, especially by quantifying the spatial arrangement progression of benthic functional groups across urchin abundances. This study aims to assess the impact of the loss of a keystone species on reef community structure and function using innovative spatially explicit tools to quantify the fine-scale spatiotemporal changes in the community structure, the size distribution, and spatial dispersion of coral and algae species on the reefs of Culebra, Puerto Rico, during the initial phase of the Diadema die-off in the Caribbean.Website


Mike Sukop

  • Near Peer
Focused on computational fluid dynamics in cavernous, fractured and porous media. Solute transport in these complex media and its simulation, including inverse modeling, are key interests. This research is done at pore to aquifer scales using both traditional groundwater models and lattice Boltzmann modelsWebsite


Elizabeth Whitman

  • Near Peer Mentor
Research interests include the foraging ecology and habitat use of sea turtles. She studies the top-down and bottom-up factors that affect green turtle (Chelonia mydas) distributions in coastal Caribbean habitats including food availability, food quality, and risk of predation by sharks. She’s especially interested in green turtle foraging behavior in the face of a Caribbean invasion by the non-native seagrass Halophila stipulacea.Website


Sonia Underwood

  • Near Peer Mentor
we have also worked with faculty within chemistry, biology, and physics departments to talk about what they want students to learn, how they would know if students are learning the material, and how their material relates to other disciplinesWebsite


Kathleen Fisher

  • Near Peer Mentor
Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) is education research that is situated within one of the STEM disciplines. It is shaped by and contributes to disciplinary knowledge and practices. Our research group focuses on two areas of DBER: 1. Enacting and studying change in communities 2. Teaching and learning of geoscience, primarily atmospheric scienceWebsite



John Berry

  • Near Peer:

· Chemistry and toxicology/pharmacology of bioactive metabolites from microbes, and particularly toxins from marine and freshwater microalgae

· The identification, isolation and characterization of these bioactive compounds, particularly including those from the cyanobacteria (or "blue-green algae"), as they relate to both environmental health and biomedicine.




Francisco Alberto Fernandez-Lima

  • Near Peer Mentor:
· My research is focused on the development of new generation instrumentation and methodologies for biomedical and behavioral research. In particular, our group is interested in the characterization of the chemical environment at the single cell and sub-cellular level of model cell systems and tissue sections using a "molecular microscope".Website


We encourage applications from students who are enthusiastic about participating in a collaborative, hands-on learning environment. Significant past experience in ecological research is not required, although some projects may have specific requirements (email for inquiries).


  • Potential REU's must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States
  • Applicants must plan to attend the entire 10-week program (May 22, 2023 through July 28, 2023).No exceptions. All in-person attendance. 
  • Applicants must plan to be full-time students enrolled in a college/university for at least one semester after the summer program (e.g., Fall 2023).
  • Applicants should be undergraduate students in the discipline/major related to the Mentors project list that is chosen.
  • Applicants should have completed at least two semesters of coursework in environment-related topics.
  • Applicants cannot be enrolled in summer coursework while enrolled in the NSF Site REU program or work a part-time job.
  • Applicants must attend and participate in the professional development workshops that occur 1x a week.
  • Applicants must fulfill program objectives completely, to receive the full stipend (Awarded in three (3) installments: beginning, middle, end).

How to Apply

The application window is Dec. 5 2022 - Feb 3rd 2023Late/incomplete applications will not be accepted. Applications will be reviewed in early February. All applicants will be officially notified of their status (acceptance/rejection) by email in mid-March.

Applicants will be expected to submit the following items:

If you have any questions, please email 

Student Success

Our REU students go on to publish their work in renowned journals and present their research at conferences worldwide. Below is a list of the publications, presentations and posters led by our current REU students and alumni.

  • Rodríguez-Casariego Javier A., Mercado-Molina Alex E., Garcia-Souto Daniel, Ortiz-Rivera Ivanna M., Lopes Christian, Baums Iliana B., Sabat Alberto M., Eirin-Lopez Jose M. Genome-Wide DNA Methylation Analysis Reveals a Conserved Epigenetic Response to Seasonal Environmental Variation in the Staghorn Coral Acropora cervicornis. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2020, 7, 822. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2020.560424 
  • Chapman, J.G. The Impacts of Copper Contamination on Aquatic Predator-Prey Interactions: Hohonu Academic Journal, 2020, 18, 94-101.