The Center for Brain and Behavior Research (CBBRe) offers a multi-disciplinary summer research program that gives USD undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct mentored, hypothesis-driven research in fields related to substance use and abuse and mental health issues. The program is geared toward first-generation college students from rural backgrounds, but all USD undergraduate students are encouraged to apply.

The program incorporates a wide range of experimental methods with human or animal subjects, including cognitive, behavioral, systems, neuropharmacological, electrophysiological and molecular approaches.

Research Details

Students will work with a faculty mentor for 10 weeks over the summer on a dedicated research project. Faculty involved in this program are members of the departments of biology, psychology, addiction studies, psychiatry and pediatrics, the division of Basic Biomedical Sciences, the School of Business and Sanford Research.

In addition to the day-to-day research with a faculty mentor, the summer program will involve an initial orientation day, training in responsible conduct of research, weekly meetings with the students and faculty in the program, seminars presented by invited speakers in the area of addiction and mental health, and a career fair to inform student of potential careers in addiction and mental health research.

After the summer of research, students will present their work at the CBBRe Annual Research Symposium, which will be held in August. Students will also present their work at IdeaFest.

Students in the program will receive a housing allowance and a $4000 stipend for the 10-week program. The faculty mentor will receive $1,000 to support the student's research project or students' travel to a meeting to present their work.

Application Details

Eight students are selected for the program based on a competitive application process. Students who have previously participated in SPURA are not eligible to apply again. Learn more and apply by February 14.

Contact Brian Burrell at or Lisa McFadden at for further information or assistance with the application process.

This summer program is funded by a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grant number R25-DA033674.

Summer Events

Undergraduate Researchers' Lunch

Meet other summer researchers at our weekly lunches, held from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Thursday from approximately May 21 to July 30. All undergraduate researchers on campus are welcome to attend. Lunches are provided by the South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network. Contact us at with any questions.


SPURA students are required to attend all SPURA-hosted events. The schedule will be available soon for the 2020 SPURA program. Inform Lisa McFadden or Brian Burrell if you cannot make an event, as many of these events can be videoconferenced to off-site locations with advanced notice.

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