Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)

Are you a high school Biology teacher (currently teaching 9-12th grade) located in or around east Alabama and are interested in a research experience to augment your own education and training for teaching science? Want to earn a summer stipend and supplies for your classroom?

We are inviting you to join us on the Auburn University campus to get paid to develop an inquiry-based lesson plan about the scientific method while participating in research conducted in the lab of Dr. Matthew Wolak. Come, be part of BEETLES (Beetle Evolution Equips Teachers and Learners through Engaging in Science)!

Read on for more information and please e-mail Dr. Wolak ( Email) with any questions or to find out more information.

Auburn University National Science Foundation logo Greater East Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair


  • Stipend payments of up to $2,450 per teacher for participating in all of the BEETLES program activities

  • and up to $1,600 to cover costs associated with participation

  • and up to $2,000 worth of equipment and supplies for your classroom

What to expect

  • Do hands-on research and lesson-planning associated with ALEX state science standard for Unity and Diversity core ideas
    • genetic variation, evolution, fitness, population growth ALEX vocabulary (standards 9, 10, 14, 15)
  • Develop an inquiry-based lesson plan to teach concepts about evolution by natural selection and convey the scientific process through student-led research projects in your own classroom.
    • To facilitate each teacher implementing the planned learning activity with seed beetles, members of the Wolak Research Group will visit classrooms, set up beetle cultures, and provide equipment and materials.
  • Refine key research skills such as:
    • image capture and analysis of size and color (e.g., MorphoJ)
    • analytical balance measurements
    • observation of life history stages, courtship, and mating behaviors
    • presentation of results using summary statistics that emphasize parameter estimates and measures of precision
    • plotting data and interpeting results.

How to apply

Tentative Dates June 17 - June 28, 2024

To be considered for one of the two teacher fellow positions each summer, please e-mail the following attachments to Dr. Wolak ( Email) by 9PM on June 3rd:

  • Professional Resume
    • Maximum of 3 pages
  • Statement of Purpose
    • 1-page maximum (single spaced, 12 pt. font) statement about your background in biology, current and planned teaching assignments, and expectations for what you would like to achieve from the research experience and lesson-plan development.

Timeline and tiered stipends


  • 2-week, expenses paid research experience and collaborative lesson plan development
    • $1,700 stipend per teacher and up to $1,600 to cover accommodations, travel, and other costs associated with participating in the summer program at Auburn University.


  • Dr. Wolak and lab members visit your classroom to provide resources and supplies to help implement your lesson plan

    • $250 tiered stipend allocation available for teachers that participate in this activity
    • Up to $2,000 to provide science equipment (e.g., balances, smartphone macro camera lens, etc.) for teachers to implement the inquiry based, hands-on lessons using seed beetles developed during the summer
  • Dr. Wolak and lab members are also available to consult on science fair projects for your students

  • Auburn University Destination STEM: Bring your students to campus for a chance to do hands-on discovery of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics!


  • Science Fairs
    • Greater East Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair (GEARSEF)
    • Alabama State Science and Engineering Fair
  • Wehle Nature Center Field Days
    • $250 tiered stipend allocation available for teachers that participate in this event
    • BEETLES program teacher experiences culminate at the outdoor field day event. BEETLES teachers and the Wolak Research Group members will design a poster together to synthesize the results and impacts of the previous 10 months of BEETLES program progress. These posters will emphasize the way participation in BEETLES has impacted teaching practices and student learning.


Please e-mail Dr. Wolak ( Email) with any questions or to find out more information.