Wednesday, January 15, 2014

All about REU's

This is the time of year when students in STEM majors (that's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) tend to receive email notices from their departments about summer REU opportunities. We wanted to provide some basic information and insights into these valuable experiences.

WHAT ARE REU's?
"Research Experience for Undergraduates" (REU's) are intensive summer research experiences that take place at universities (primarily), as well as government or nonprofit research institutes around the U.S. and overseas.  Funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, these opportunities provide a sizable stipend (and often housing and travel assistance), as well as the opportunity to contribute to meaningful, cutting-edge research projects that run the gamut from microbiology to alternative energy.

The NSF website features a great search engine for locating REU opportunities by keyword and location.

WHO CAN DO AN REU?
Specific criteria will vary from REU to REU, but only current undergraduates are eligible. (International students, however, are not eligible, due to the government funding source for these opportunities.) In most cases, REU's are very competitive opportunities for which juniors are the best fit, but sophomores and sometimes even freshmen do get them.
There are REU's for every science discipline, engineering, computer science, social and behavioral sciences, and even education!

HOW DO I APPLY?
Each REU site requires a separate application.  In most cases this involves an application form, a statement of interest, a resume (or a "CV" as it may be called), letters of recommendation from faculty, and a transcript.  Deadlines are generally in February and early March. 

For help with REU applications, come to the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center library in 4-200 Dewey Hall (Monday thru Friday, 9 to 5), or call 585.275.2366 to make an appointment with one of our counselors.

WHY SHOULD I DO AN REU?
REU's allow you to participate in interesting research topics that may not be available here at the U of R, working alongside prominent faculty and talented Ph.D. students. They are a great way to build your skills in the lab and with various computer programs, and to see if a career in research is right for you. REU's look great on graduate school applications!  You might even have a chance to contribute to a research article that may be published in a scientific journal.

WHAT CAN I DO THIS SUMMER BESIDES AN REU?
In our "4 P's" strategy (Postings, Places, People and Programs), REU's are an example of "programs" -- structured opportunities to which you can apply. They are highly visible opportunities (especially at this time of year), but they are by no means the only "game in town"!  Come to the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center to learn about how you can find and target internships and other research opportunities of interest.
 

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