Mentoring student researchers


Dr. Paul Keim is internationally recognized for the research he’s performed in microbiology, genetics, and disease prevention. Although this remarkable scientist—chair of the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity (NSABB) and director of Pathogen Genomics at TGen Research Institute—conducts crucial research for high-level government use, he’s also committed to collaborating with NAU students in his work, ensuring undergraduate and graduate students alike can gain the academic and professional development they need to succeed.


Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

In the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, up to 10 new undergraduates are accepted as paid workers in the laboratory every year through a competitive screening process. Paul explains this opportunity is important, both for these students and for the lab.

"We don't want them working a second job—we want them here working, and it's a real research job," Paul says. "By the time they've been in the lab for a year or two, they're working very independently on meaningful research. I think I've had 150 undergraduates end up as co-authors on scientific papers."

These research and publishing opportunities are not just resumé-builders—often, they represent significant scientific breakthroughs that can mean millions of dollars in new funding for the lab. Students like Cedar Mitchell are the reason Paul Keim places so much emphasis on providing undergraduate researchers these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

"I'm working in collaboration with scientists all over the world," Cedar says. "I'm able to perform the research myself, and not very many students have these opportunities. I never imagined that I would be able to work in a lab like this, so I feel incredibly fortunate."

Experience with top faculty

Throughout higher education, it is highly unusual to find undergraduates in research labs—these are the sort of experiences that NAU takes so much pride in offering its students. The Campaign for NAU is focused on continuing to provide students with meaningful research opportunities, and the chance to work alongside researchers like Paul Keim. Through your support, additional students can have the experience of participating in research under the mentorship of NAU’s outstanding faculty.

"I'm working in collaboration with scientists all over the world. I’m able to perform the research myself, and not very many undergraduates have these opportunities." -- Cedar Mitchell, undergraduate researcher in Paul Keim's laboratory