Faculty-Led Authentic Research Experience (FLARE)

IDEA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence

This program is designed for undergraduate students, who are not ready to apply for the traditional UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program) experience, but wish to gain a mentored, authentic research experience. The program will last approximately 5 weeks and will involve a mentored research experience in a lab at UNR, NSC or TMCC, as well as a responsible conduct of research seminar and tours of various labs, the medical school, the PA school, and much more! Dorm housing will be provided for out of area students and each student selected for a FLARE fellowship will receive $2,500 in compensation as a student worker for their research period.

Program Guidelines

  • Research projects will begin in early June and include 5-week, full-time, research and educational experience. 

  • Students will be assigned to a faculty mentor on campus who will lead you through an authentic research experience.

  • Students are required to attend an orientation which includes a required laboratory safety class, as well as seminars and tours.

  • Students are required to attend a series of seminars and workshops focused on assisting students planning to pursuing biomedical research careers.


Students must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • U.S. citizens or have a valid employment authorization document (EAD) permitting you to work in the U.S. (DACA students are eligible)

  • Continuing student enrolled in Fall 2020 classes. 

  • 3.0 minimum GPA

  • Undergraduates enrolled at NSC, CSN, GBC, TMCC, SNU or WNC 

  • Priority is given to underrepresented/educationally disadvantaged students.

Acceptance of this award may impact a student's income level to a degree that could affect eligibility for student loans, and other scholarship/fellowship opportunities. If an applicant has any concerns in this area, it is the student's duty to consult with a campus financial aid advisor. The University does not provide tax advice. If you have questions about possible tax liabilities, you may refer to the IRS web site.



  • Once you begin the online FLARE application, you can save it and go back in to add information.
  • You will need the name and email for your reference. The application will automatically send them a link to the reference form to fill out. All references need to be submitted directly by the author by the application deadline. Your references will not receive the link to the reference form until your application is fully submitted. Please be sure to allow enough time for your references to complete the reference form. If your reference does not receive the link, please contact Alex Martinez and she can send them a link directly.
  • Before you begin, you must have your personal statement in a single PDF format to upload.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: Please describe a) your academic background, b) scientific interests, c) any past research experience, and d) what you hope to gain from the research experience. Do not exceed two pages.

UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT: Please attach your unofficial transcript in a your single PDF upload along with your personal statement.

Applications are currently closed for 2021

Questions can be directed to alexmartinez@unr.edu or garfieldj@med.unr.edu

FLARE Placement Opportunities

Below are a list of labs willing to accept FLARE students to give you an idea of the types of research available.

Sal Baker Lab (UNR): My Lab has focused on studying motor neurotransmission from peripheral nerves and smooth muscle physiology, specifically through studies of gastrointestinal (GI) and bladder muscles and emphasis on interstitial cells and mechanisms that generate and regulate motility. A major developmental effort of the lab has been to apply imaging techniques to view Ca2+ dynamics of specific types of cells in situ. By imaging cells in situ it is possible to define their responses to substances actually released from innervating neurons. Optogenetic approaches, monitoring muscle contraction and developing new methods for data analysis are major methods utilized in the lab.

Yong Zhang Lab (UNR): We are mainly using fruit flies as a model to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of circadian rhythms and sleep. Fly stock maintenance, fly behavior and genetics, regular molecular biology methods will be used.

Maryam Raeeszadeh-Sarmazdeh Lab (UNR): We are interested in protein engineering and design to develop novel therapeutics, drug delivery, biosensing, and biocatalysis tools and products. We use both rational and combinatorial protein engineering techniques to create new bioengineering tools and develop designer protein scaffolds and smart protein assemblies with applications in biomedical, biomaterial, bioimaging, and bioenergy.

Bob Renden Lab (UNR): We use a combination of protein detection, fluorescence imaging and electrophysiology to better understand chemical neurotransmission between neurons in the brain.

Yftah Tal-Gan Lab (UNR): Research in the Tal-Gan lab focuses on the development of chemical-based tools to study important biological questions with potential therapeutic implications. We utilize peptides and their analogs as probes to study quorum sensing and other forms of cell-cell communication among oral streptococci. Peptides developed by our research group can be utilized as potential novel drug-leads to help combat multi-drug resistant pathogens.

Nicholas Murray Lab (UNR):  Sport-related concussion research that involved hands on patient care and more advanced neuroscience investigations.

Marian Berryhill Lab (UNR): Various methods involved in studying executive function - including in special populations. We are currently running studies investigating the lasting cognitive consequences of concussion.

Lars Strother Lab (UNR): The Strother lab studies visual perception and object recognition using behavioral and neuroimaging (fMRI) experiments on human subjects. Our lab focus on the visual recognition of commonplace visual "objects" such as faces and words. In addition to studying the normal function of the visual system, we also study impairments of visual function during object recognition, and its relationship to brain development and developmental dyslexia.

Ruben Dagda Lab (UNR Med): I am currently performing basic and preclinical research in brain degenerative diseases. I am currently investigating why and how neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine lose energy and die during the progression of Parkinson's disease. Specifically, my research group uses animal models and cell culture models to understand how neurons lose their connections and why the energy centers, termed mitochondria, collapse and lose the ability to produce energy in the brain. In addition, we are screening for drugs and natural compounds that can slow or reverse the course of Parkinson's disease in mouse and rat models of Parkinson's disease. Another area of research is to understand how protein aggregates, termed beta amyloid, accumulate in neurons during the progression of Alzheimer' disease, and adversely affect the structure and function of mitochondria. Moreover, we are trying to understand how increasing protective signaling in the brain can protect neurons against beta amyloid accumulation and protect mitochondria during the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Bradley Ferguson Lab (UNR): My lab is focused on better understanding the role for post-translational modifications, in particular lysine acetylation, in the regulation of signal transduction, contractile function, and muscle remodeling. In particular, my lab examines how changes in protein acetylation alters muscle structure and function that leads to cardiac and skeletal muscle disease.

Steven Frese Lab (UNR): My research centers on understanding how the gut microbiome has evolved to shape host health and nutrition, and how diet/microbe/host interactions are influenced by novel food ingredients and/or bioprocessing technologies. We use a mix of technologies ranging from classic microbiology and cell culture to mass spectrometry, and bioinformatics to interrogate these interactions and develop opportunities to translate these interventions to improve patient outcomes in neonatal and adult nutrition.

Cam Tran Lab (UNR Med): Our research focuses on neurovascular coupling and blood flow regulation in the brain. Our laboratory utilizes two-photon laser scanning fluorescence microscope to detect real time neural and vascular activity at the cellular level. To complement the in vivo model, we also utilize ex vivo model including brain slices and isolated vessels. Our goal is to uncover the mechanistic basis of the neurovascular coupling process and how the integrated signals between neurons, astrocytes and blood vessels become deregulated in diseases.

Amber Howerton Lab (NSC): **Please note that dorm housing is not available for this lab at Nevada State College and you will be responsible for your own housing/transportation.** Dr. Howerton is a multidisciplinary biochemist with research interests in: medicinal chemistry, pathogenic microbiology and inflammatory diseases of the skin. She primarily studies spore germination and anti-germination therapy in the hospital-acquired bacterium, Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) and the potential bioweapon, Bacillus anthracis, Anthrax. Dr. Howerton is also interested in natural and semi-synthetic anti-inflammatory compounds as potential topical agents to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Ongoing projects include: molecular analysis of anthrax germination requirements, germination kinetics, structure activity analyses of natural and semi-synthetic compounds on the psoriasis disease cascade, and identifying C. difficile in domestic canines.

Laura Rosales Lab (NSC): **Please note that dorm housing is not available for this lab at Nevada State College and you will be responsible for your own housing/transportation.** Dr. Rosales' lab is focused on analyzing air quality data to relate concentrations of particulate matter with environmental conditions such as temperature and relative humidity in different microenvironments, indoor and outdoor. These relationships can help us to asses the behavior and potential exposure to particulate matter and its health effect.