Science Education Opportunities - Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Research Experiences for Undergraduates

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at NSF ".....supports active research parcticipation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specially designed for the purpose......"
From the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program Announcement

In short, REU's are intended to help science undergraduates develop into scientists ( = researchers as a renewable resource). There are two ways to go with NSF support (note: you don't have to get NSF support......): individual REU's for one or a few students, or establishment of a REU Site.

Individual REU's In this scenario, you would involve a few undergraduates from your home institution (usually) in the research project. Funds would be requested through your NSF Program as a supplement to a new or existing grant. This is a common path and can be tailored very specifically to your program and students. There is considerable flexibility in the design.

REU Sites ".....The National Science Foundation makes possible a number of opportunities for undergraduates to join research projects each summer. This allows students to experience first-hand how basic research is carried out, and to contribute consequentially..... " ".....REU "Sites" are established in all fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Each Site consists of a group of ten or so undergraduates, who work in the research programs of the host institution. Students are in general accepted from throughout the country. Each student is assigned to a specific research project, where he/she works closely with the faculty, post-docs, and graduate students. In addition, seminars, lunch meetings, and social functions are organized to facilitate interaction between the undergraduates. Students are granted stipends, and in some cases assistance with housing and travel......"
From the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates Web site

A Few Models
Funding Opportunities

Many of the suggestions for REU's are for individual REU's. They are similar to those for research experiences for teachers.
  • Find out what already is out there; check out existing programs to leverage their experiences.

  • Plan a research experience that integrates with your research efforts; this makes it more likely that you will be able to maintain involvement.

  • Consider involving a small team of students (2 to 3); they will build on each other's excitement and knowledge, and will develop a strong "support network." In the long run, this will lighten your workload.

  • You are a mentor; have high (well defined) expectations, be patient, help the student achieve success.

  • Involve the student(s) in as many aspects of design of the experience as possible. This will vary, depending on the scope of the project.

  • Be clear about the expectations of everyone involved. What do you expect of the undergraduate? What does the student expect of you and the experience? What training is needed?

  • Define the project and be realistic about time and effort commitments of all parcticipants.

  • Define clear goals in terms of time investment and products. Have the student work toward a poster presentation at a meeting, a co-authored journal arcticle, etc.

  • Include the student in as many components of the research process as possible (identification of the questions; design and implementation of the experiment; data collection, display, and interpretation; determination of conclusions and identification of new questions).

  • Involve the student in research team discussions. Make sure they understand the big to small picture and relevance of the research.

  • Get your graduate students involved in mentoring the undergraduate.

  • A Few Models

    REU Site: Glacial geological research for undergraduates, Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Undergraduates parcticipate in 6-week sessions of superviseddata collection in glacial geology, sedimentology, glaciohydrology, or hydrogeology projects. Students complete their undergraduate thesis projects at their home institutions during the subsequent school year and are encouraged to present results at a national meeting.

    Exploring Antarctic Technology Through Industrial Design, Engineering Mentorships, and Problem-Based Learning. Students work to solve problems presented by the extreme conditions at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The students work under polar engineers at Yerkes Observatory and may earn 3 academic credits for parcticipating.

    Hamilton College Undergraduate Research in Antarctica The Hamilton program enables undergraduate students to become involved in Antarctic scientific work aboard the United States' Antarctic Program's research vessels. The Web site contains information about current research and past projects conducted by undergraduates.

    Center for Geophysical Studies of Ice and Climate, St. Olaf College (

    Funding Opportunities

    Research Experiences for Undergraduates A source for funding for REU projects.

    REU Program Announcement

    Information about OPP's REU Program can be requested through:

    List of REU Sites (

    Evaluation of Research Experiences - NSF - Ocean Sciences

    New ideas, suggestions for changes, recommendations for additions, etc. always are welcome and can be mailed to:

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