Choose Development!

Paid Summer Undergraduate Research Training Program


The Society for Developmental Biology (SDB) Choose Development! program aims to increase the number of undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds that enter graduate programs in the field of developmental biology, on their way to becoming independent researchers.


Choose Development! is a 10-week paid summer undergraduate research training program for students from underrepresented or traditionally excluded groups in STEM, first-generation college students, or those with disabilities interested in pursuing research careers in developmental biology and related areas.

A stipend of $5,500 each summer and some travel/living assistance will be provided.

The program provides a research-intensive undergraduate training experience in the lab of an established developmental biologist, a multi-level mentoring plan for each student, SDB-wide recognition and enculturation activities at national scientific conferences, and continued mentoring after the completion of the fellowship.

Undergraduates will be selected from a national applicant pool. There are two ways to participate in the program.

Option 1: The student will pursue research in a lab at their home institution.

Option 2: The student will pursue research in a lab outside their home institution.

In both cases, the Academic Mentor (PI) must be an SDB member and apply to the program. For Option 2, the student will be matched to a research laboratory from a list of Choose Development! mentors. All students will be mentored by faculty committed to enhancing their preparation to enter graduate programs.

Students will be recognized as an elite group of SDB Choose Development! Fellows who will spend two summers pursuing independent research in the mentor’s laboratory.

The Society will ensure dissemination of their research accomplishments through the  Fellows’ participation in SDB regional and/or national meetings, complemented by strong support and encouragement from members of this scientific community.

It is expected that most, if not all of these SDB Choose Development! Fellows will pursue and be accepted into graduate programs in developmental biology or related areas.

Choose Development Luncheon with Fellows and Mentors at SDB 82nd Annual Meeting in Chicago.


SDB Choose Development! Fellows

Undergraduate students belonging to underrepresented or traditionally excluded groups in STEM (Black/African Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans/Aboriginals, Native Hawaiians and US Pacific Islanders), first-generation college students, and those with disabilities. Individuals not belonging in groups listed above, but demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented in STEM may apply.  Such exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must be United States or Canadian citizens or permanent residents.  (see Populations Underrepresented in the Extramural Scientific Workforce | SWD at NIH).

Considering the 2-year duration of training, preference will be given to students with at least two years remaining prior to graduation at the time of application.

Applicants intending to pursue a PhD in developmental biology or related field will be given priority over those solely pursuing a medical degree. However, we realize that career paths can change. Let us know in your application if you are unsure which postgraduate degree(s) you will pursue but that you have a strong interest in research in developmental biology.

Applicants must be willing to travel to a different city for summer research if choosing Option 2.

SDB Choose Development! Academic Mentors

Academic Mentor applicants are current SDB members who hold research grants and are committed to the mission of this program, have space for a summer undergraduate research student, and have a Lab Mentor (postdoc or advanced grad student, or lab manager) who can assist in providing hands-on training to the student.

Considering the duration of this program the applicants must be available throughout the duration of the 2-year training program.

Applicants must agree to provide all laboratory supplies and equipment necessary for a productive research experience for the student.

Accepted mentors are required to attend mentor workshops.

2023 Choose Development! Fellows meet with Nipam Patel


Deadline: February 1, 2024

Applications are open!

Fellow Application

  • See 2024 preview questions.
  • Academic Transcript - upload to online application.
  • One Letter of Recommendation from a scientific advisor, academic advisor, or faculty member who knows your academic interests and potential (Submitted by recommender to by February 1, 2024.)

Mentor Application

  • See 2024 preview questions.
  • NSF or NIH-style Biosketch - upload to online application.

Publications on Choose Development!

Unguez, G.A., Bennett, K.L., Domingo, C, and Chow, I. (2022). Increasing Diversity in Developmental Biology. Front. Sociol. 6, February 2.

Scientia (2017). The Society for Developmental Biology – Choose Development! Increasing Diversity in Developmental Biology. Scientia. February 20.

Supported by:
NIH: R25-HD105600 (2021-2025)
NSF: IOS-1239422 (2013-2017)
Society for Developmental Biology