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Tephritid fruit fly Multidisciplinary Australian Research Collaboration for Biosecurity

Eastern Mennonite University is running an International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program funded through the National Science Foundation. This program will allow 18 undergraduate students (six per year for three years) to gain multidisciplinary research experience in Australia. Students will be recruited from EMU and neighboring schools James Madison University, Bridgewater College, and Blue Ridge Community College to conduct research on fruit flies (Tephritidae), which are among the most damaging horticultural insect pests worldwide, constituting pest management issues, trade barriers, and invasion threats for Australia, the U.S., and throughout the tropics and subtropics.

In Australia, students will be based at Macquarie University in Sydney, NSW, and at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Mareeba, Queensland. Through this program, students will

  • participate in a semester-long pre-travel research preparation and cross-cultural program,
  • conduct rigorous individual research projects on tephritid fruit flies during a seven-week period in Australia
  • immerse themselves in Australian culture as they participate in research fields with global interest and impact
  • communicate their research through scientific journals and presentations, and in the local community

Participating students will conduct research in three areas: tephritid fruit fly physiology and behavior, organic analysis and synthesis of fruit fly lures, and field ecology and management techniques. Collectively, this research will address gaps in understanding of how fruit flies metabolize secondary plant compounds, what they smell and what attracts them, how they move in the environment, and how to develop more effective control techniques, such as attractant fruit fly lures.

Program dates: Approximately June 1 through July 31 (nine weeks in total).  In addition, selected students will begin orientation, cohort building activities, background research, and methodology training in the spring semester before their summer research experience in Australia. Students will participate in a series of activities to prepare for both the research (background, techniques, collaborator videoconferences, and individual project planning) and cross-cultural aspects of the time they will spend in Australia. These activities will be conducted through a weekend cohort initiation and several months of online activities.

Who is eligible to apply: United States citizens or permanent residents who are enrolled at Eastern Mennonite University, James Madison University, Bridgewater College, or Blue Ridge Community College are eligible to apply.  We are particularly interested in recruiting undergraduate sophomores/juniors who will have at least one semester remaining to complete their degree after conducting the research abroad program.

How to apply:  Please send the following materials to Dr. Matthew Siderhurst ( by November 30.

  • A personal statement of interests and goals (500-1000 words). Why are you interested in research?  What are your career goals?  What research area(s) within this program interest you most?
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts (can be unofficial)
  • Resume

Application deadline: November 30, 2021.

If you have any questions about the program please email Dr. Matthew Siderhurst (

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