Do Research This Summer!



Students at the PGP REU Party, December 3rd

If you feel more comfortable in a lab than a cubicle, if you think you're headed for grad school, or if you'd just like a different type of experience on a different college campus next summer, consider doing research.   The National Science Foundation (NSF) designates funding for research in many different STEM fields at a wide variety of colleges each summer.  Their program is called Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), and we suggest you check them out.

To help students thinking about this option, PGP hosted their annual REU party earlier this month. But don't worry if you missed it, there is still plenty of time to start the application process. Take a minute to review the tips that REU alumni mentioned during the session.

·         Apply early

·         Apply to several labs to increase your chances of getting a position

·         You will need recommendations, talk to faculty soon (before break if possible).  Let them know the area of interest you have, which will help them do a better letter for you. 

·         Research the lab you are interested in and contact the faculty member in charge

o   Let him/her know that you are interested and why

o   These sites are being updated all the time as each lab learns that they have acquired funding from the NSF.   Some may still have last summer's information so keep checking the site every week this time of year.   You can also email the contact at each REU to start a conversation about your area of interest.

·         The NSF website does not list all the REUs so again, keep checking back, and additional research may be necessary.  You can also try looking for these on different school's websites, if there is a university you'd be interested in working at this summer. 

In addition to professor recommendations (generally 2-3), here is a list of other things you'll need in complete each REU application:

·         The application itself

·         An essay describing your technical area of interest

·         Transcripts (you can get these from the STAR office) (provide link here too)

You will get paid for these REU's.  Most offer a stipend as well as campus housing and some type of meal plan.  It's a great chance to see a different part of the country, school, meet some grad students and professors, and go deeper into your area of interest. 

Start at the NSF REU website and for a more detailed look at how to apply, check out this document that was prepared by former PGP Intern/REU alumna Sarah Zimmermann '10.

You can also do research at Olin!  Watch for future blog posts about students doing cool research, either at Olin or through an REU. 


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