With financial support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI), and grants from members of the Neuroscience Faculty Team at UTEP, the Summer Mentoring and Research Training program in Methods in the Neuroscience of Drug-addiction (SMART MIND) is held each summer.

Students have an opportunity to choose the project that they would like to work on and the laboratory they are interested in joining.  In their application form they can select from among several projects designed to take them from novice to relatively independent researcher status. These projects will provide a meaningful exposure to research methodology in neuroscience with a strong emphasis in drug addiction studies. The following areas of research are included:

  • Presynaptic mechanisms of plasticity that modulate “sensitization”
  • Processing of stressful stimuli by the central nervous system.
  • Relationship between substance abuse, addiction and stress, behavior and the dopamine neurotransmitter system.
  • Molecular, biochemical, cellular and systems basis of behavioral plasticity.
  • Neural and molecular components of reward vs. punishment or olfactory vs. visual learning and memory.
  • Enhanced susceptibility of diabetic patients to drugs of abuse.
  • Neural mechanisms that mediate motivated behavior.
  • Increased vulnerability to drugs of abuse across different populations of clinical relevance.
  • Mechanism of neurodegeneration and its link to addiction.

The SMART-MIND program will provide a cohort of summer participants with a high quality experience that combines education, novel research in state-of-the-art facilities, training in bioethics, one-on-one and group mentoring, and training in other relevant professional skills.
Each participant will be guided directly by a different member of the Neuroscience Faculty Team, but they will participate in a number of activities that will keep them as a cooperative summer cohort that shares common goals and objectives and is capable of understanding each-others work, collaborating when appropriate, and contributing to each-other’s growth as practicing scientists
The major emphasis of this program is the research itself and participants will be integrated into the research groups of individual faculty mentors. However, given that the SMART-MIND program has a unifying theme; participants share common research goals as well as goals for academic and professional development. Consequently, SMART-MIND participants will meet frequently as a group for discussions, training, formal presentations, workshops and seminars.  At the end of the program students will present the results of their summer’s efforts. 



Program Duration


Undergraduate students from UTEP and institutions across the US^

11 weeks

  May 19 – August 2,    2014

High School Teacher-Student Team (TST)*^

7 weeks

June 16 – August 2, 2014

      *Each HS teacher will bring a HS student to work with her/him as a team in the same laboratory.

^Visiting students must arrive on May 18th and depart on August 3rd.


Undergraduate Students admitted to the program will receive:

  • Approximately $4,000 for 11 weeks
  • Fully furnished apartments consisting of 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen and living area (if necessary). Apartments include bed linens, high speed Internet, basic cable package, electricity, gas, water, and refrigerated air.
  • Travel reimbursement of up to $600 (out of the El Paso area participants only)

High School Students admitted to the program will receive:

  • Approximately $290/week for 7 weeks

High School Teachers admitted to the program will receive:

  • Approximately $1,000/week for 7 weeks

For additional information contact:

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