About us


Our mission at the Biology Undergraduate Apprenticeships (BUA) program is to ensure equitable access to academic and research opportunities for all undergraduate students at University of Massachusetts Amherst. We plan to achieve this by:

  • Engaging UMass faculty, postgraduate, and graduate students as mentors who are eager to guide motivated students.
  • Connecting students with mentors who appreciate enthusiasm, curiosity, and potential from diverse backgrounds.
  • Providing a platform for mentors to share project opportunities and a designated application period for students.
  • Providing resources to mentors on effective recruitment and mentorship strategies.
    Guiding students to resources in developing successful applications and career goals.


The UMass Biology Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship program was started in 2009 by Biology Professor Prof. Sheila Patek, bringing positive experiences with UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program and a passion for improving access to undergraduate research. Dr. Steven Brewer working with undergraduate student Muhammed Syed developed a Drupal framework to support the program. The interface was refined and the workflow modified by Prof. Patek and her student Matt Seden. After Prof. Patek joined Duke University in 2013, Profs. Michele Markstein and Steve Brewer streamlined the workflow and maintained the site that was used until 2020 with Prof. Markstein serving as the program director.

While at Duke, Prof. Patek began working with Jay Beaton Consulting to develop an improved Drupal framework, MUSER, with funding from the National Science Foundation and Duke. MUSER is available Open Source at Github. Installations are in use at Duke and Harvey Mudd. We are grateful to the many years of hard work and thought Prof. Patek has put into this project and for her advice in moving forward with MUSER!

The Current UMass Amherst Team

Our current implementation is based on MUSER. Working with Jay Beaton Consulting, we have added several features to expand the scope of the program for the recruitment of teaching assistants, simplify the application process, add new searchable fields, enable pronoun usage, and collect data to evaluate the success of the program in creating equitable access to and eliminating structural racism in research and teaching opportunities. Since the program now includes the recruitment of undergraduate teaching assistants, work study students and independent study research assistants, the name of the program has been shortened to Biology Undergraduate Apprenticeships (BUA). The current advisory committee members are Madelaine Bartlett, Jeffrey Blanchard, Steven Brewer, Meghan Gerson, Paul Katz, Rosa Moscarella, Mary Packard, and Louis Taylor. Special thanks to Linda Zeigenbein, Director of Student Success and Diversity, Scott Auerbach, Executive Director of iCONS, the Biology Racial Justice Committee and the Institute for Diversity Sciences for helpful suggestions and workshops.