The University of Arizona

BRAVO! Program Connects UA Students With Research Opportunities Abroad

By Eric Swedlund, University Communications | July 30, 2013
Students in the UA's BRAVO! program work abroad in labs run by colleagues of UA faculty. Here, Jonathan Schouest, who is pursuing a master's degree in public health, poses with a group of Kenyan children.
Students in the UA's BRAVO! program work abroad in labs run by colleagues of UA faculty. Here, Jonathan Schouest, who is pursuing a master's degree in public health, poses with a group of Kenyan children.

More than 220 UA undergraduates have worked in labs representing 34 countries since the BRAVO! program began in 1992.

Microbiology student John McMullen is conducting research at the University of Montpellier II, in Montpellier, France.
Microbiology student John McMullen is conducting research at the University of Montpellier II, in Montpellier, France.

Ten UA students are spending their summers not just studying abroad, but working daily in research groups across the world.

The Biomedical Research Abroad: Vistas Open! – or BRAVO! – program began in 1992 and sends students to work in labs run by colleagues of University of Arizona faculty mentors.

"The U of A is a terrific place for this program because we've got a tremendous amount of research taking place here and we have faculty mentors who are very well-connected internationally," said Carol Bender, University Distinguished Outreach Professor and director of BRAVO! and the Undergraduate Biology Research Program.

"By sending the students primarily to collaborators of their faculty mentors at the UA, we have a built in measure of quality assurance. A UA mentor won't send a student into a situation where the student won't be well looked after," Bender said. "It's not only an intense scientific experience, it's an intense cultural experience. We send them not as a group, but on their own, so they become our scientific as well as cultural ambassadors."

More than 220 UA undergraduates have worked in labs representing 34 countries since the BRAVO! program began. This year's BRAVO! students are researching in England, Singapore, Germany, France, Japan, India and Kenya and come from five UA colleges: the College of Science, College of Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Engineering and the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. The BRAVO! program is funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 

Microbiology student John McMullen is researching at the University of Montpellier II, in Montpellier, France. 

"This is a wonderful program to not only allow for students to conduct research in a different lab with similar goals but also to learn about life and science in a different country. BRAVO! gives students the ability to broaden their cultural awareness in a scientific setting and in everyday life," he said. 

Mollecular and cellular biology major Sophie Hapak is working with high-resolution NMR spectroscopy at a lab at the Leibniz Institute of Molecular Pharmacology in Berlin. 

"As scientists, it is important for our growth as independent thinkers to spend time in other labs," she said. "Working with other people, learning new techniques, and learning how other people perform familiar tasks have, I believe, made me a more well-rounded and knowledgeable student. Of course, people can rotate in other labs in the U.S., but the fact that we get to work in a different country adds another dimension to the experience."