The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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New Undergraduate Research Experience Led by Shelly Peyton Brings Together Biology and Materials

students in lab

A new summer undergraduate research experience at UMass Amherst will give ten undergraduate students training in how to create advanced materials and how to use these materials to tackle crucial challenges in biology.

The new program, MURALS (Materials-focused Undergraduate Research Applied to the Life Sciences), will be led by Shelly Peyton, the Armstrong Professional Development Professor in the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department and an adjunct professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department.

Participating MURALS undergraduate students will get hands-on training and research experience working at the intersection of biology and materials through ten host laboratories, all of which are connected through the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst. Students will also participate in professional development and technical training and learn from near-peer and lab mentors to guide student career development. The program will also feature industry site visits and entrepreneurial outreach activities to help expose students to potential career opportunities in biotechnology.

MURALS will partner with the other professional development programs at UMass Amherst to support the recruitment and mentoring of REU students across all backgrounds to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to engage in research at UMass. The program is also working with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office in the College of Engineering to increase outreach and ensure opportunities for students from traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM.

The MURALS program is funded through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), which “supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation.”

For more information about MURALS and how to apply, contact Prof. Shelly Peyton at or visit the MURALS website.