What is BIRN?

The UW-Madison Bioscience Initiative for Recruiting and Networking (BIRN) is a program that connects UW-Madison bioscience faculty, staff, and graduate students with faculty, advisors, and prospective underrepresented minority (URM) students from other institutions and/or geographic areas.


The BIRN program seeks to increase application and enrollment numbers for URM students in UW-Madison biosciences graduate programs by increasing awareness of the programs at other institutions.

Applicants to our graduate programs and to the former Bioscience Opportunities Preview (BOPs) Program have indicated that their decision to apply to UW-Madison is often based on guidance from a professor or advisor. By reaching out to professors and advisors at outside institutions in addition to prospective students, BIRN will create new UW-Madison ambassadors and increase awareness among students.

What does BIRN do?

  • Four times per academic year, a UW-Madison bioscience faculty member and a graduate coordinator travel together to another institution. Occasionally, a bioscience graduate student will be invited to join.
    • Faculty member
      • Scientific talk, recruiting presentation, & meet with prospective students individually or in groups
    • Graduate coordinator
      • Separate presentation on admissions & meet with advisors and prospective students
    • Bioscience graduate students
      • Share their experiences as a graduate student with prospective students
  • Once per year, the program also hosts a faculty member from a targeted institution at UW-Madison.
    • Visiting faculty member
      • Present a scientific talk in an established seminar series & meet with bioscience program representatives from UW-Madison
      • Serve as an ambassador for UW-Madison when they return to their home institution

UW Staff & Faculty

Apply to make connections across the country


Nominate a Speaker

Help us find exciting partners to bring to UW-Madison


Non-UW Staff & Faculty

Want to come to UW? Submit an interest form