ACM-BCB Undergraduate Travel Award

The ACM-BCB Undergraduate Travel Scholarship was established in 2018 to promote computational biology education for undergraduates through conference attendance. The travel award, supported by the NSF, aims to support students who want to learn more about computational biology. See a recent computational biology education talk for more details about undergraduate conference attendance.

The Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics is the association's main bioinformatics conference. ACM-BCB covers a broad range of topics and workshops (see the 2018 program for an example). ACM-BCB is ideal for undergraduates who wish to learn about cutting-edge research at the intersection of computer science, biology, and medicine. This experience may be especially useful for students at institutions without computational biology programs or institutions with limited research and travel funds for undergraduates.

Undergraduate travel awardees receive free conference registration and housing at the conference hotel, and will get a chance to meet with other undergraduates before the meeting begins. Students are responsible for transportation and meals that are not covered by the conference, and they are encouraged to seek funding from their home department or institution for these items.

2020 Travel Award to ACM-BCB '20
(Atlanta, early Sept.)

Check back in early summer for BCB '20 applications.

2019 Travel Award to ACM-BCB '19
(Niagara Falls, Sept 7-10)

This year, the award will support student attendance at ACM-BCB '19 in Niagara Falls. Registration includes workshops on Saturday, Sept 7, and the meeting concludes on Tuesday, Sept 10. Students will stay at the Sheraton Niagara Falls. The conference will be held at the Conference and Events Center Niagara Falls.

Applicant Eligibility

Students must be enrolled in a U.S.-based college (including 4-year, 2-year, or community college), and have a faculty mentor who will confirm their enrollment and provide a brief recommendation. Relevant coursework (in biology, CS, statistics, etc.) is preferred. No research experience or minimum GPA is required. Students at all stages in their college career are eligible. Applicants from underrepresented groups in computer science (including women, historically underrepresented minority groups, and students with disabilities) are encouraged to apply.

How to Apply - (Application Closed)

  • Sign up with your name and email address. You will receive an email with a link to the full application, which you can revisit multiple times before submitting.
  • Complete the application. In addition to institution, demographic, faculty mentor, and course information, you will be asked to answer the following (250 word limit each):
    1. Why are you interested in learning about computational biology?
    2. What do you expect to gain from attending a scientific conference?
    3. What components/topics of ACM-BCB '18 do you find interesting and why?
  • Your faculty mentor will be asked to fill out a form. They will receive an email when you sign up (you also provide their contact information).
You will hear back one week after the deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the evaluation critera?

The evaluation critera are comprised of the following (in no particular order):
  • Relevant coursework or other demonstrated interest in computational biology
  • Specific examples in the essay questions
  • Lack of resources at current institution
  • Career stage of the applicant
  • Ability to attend the full conference

Who makes the final decisions?

The 2019 award committee, organized by Anna Ritz, includes
  • Peng Du (machine learning engineer at LinkedIn)
  • Nazeefa Fatima (bioinformatician at Uppsala University)
  • Yuan Gong (graduate student at University of Notre Dame)
  • Amy Rose Lazarte (software engineer at Puppet Labs)
  • Saleh Tamim (graduate student at University of Delaware)

What can get reimbursed?

Conference registration and hotel will be provided. There will also be a gathering on Saturday for everyone to meet. The rest of conference (transportation and meals) will not be covered by this award.

What do award recipients do?

Award recipients are expected to attend the full ACM-BCB conference for all days. They will also be given some survey questions and will write a brief (1-page) summary of their conference experience. There may also be follow-up surveys to track student career choice (e.g. major, research, other activities). This (anonymized) information may be used as preliminary data in future grants or as data in education publications. Awardee institutions will also be listed on this site.

What if I am not an undergraduate (e.g., I just graduated from college or I'm a graduate student?)

There are often other NSF travel awards to BCB, open to graduate students and others who present research. Contact Anna for more information.

What if I have other questions?

Email Anna ( and she will answer any questions.

Current and Previous Awards

ACM-BCB '19 in Niagara Falls: 10 students

ACM-BCB '18 in Washington, D.C. (pilot year): 3 students

Award recipients have come from these institutions:

  • Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
  • Bucknell University, Lewisberg, PA
  • Capital Community Colege, Hartford, CT
  • Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
  • Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA
  • Reed College, Portland, OR
  • Simmons University, Boston, MA
  • St. John Fisher College, East Rochester, NY
  • University of Richmond, Richmond, VA
  • University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

ritz portrait


Biology Department
Reed College
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR 97202-8199

Email icon aritz-at-reed-dot-edu

CV icon Curriculum Vitae [pdf]

Google Scholar icon Google Scholar
LinkedIn icon LinkedIn
Research Gate icon Research Gate
orcid icon ORCID iD
GitHub icon GitHub
WordPress icon Ritz Bits
WordPress icon Compbio Blog
Twitter icon @anna_m_ritz