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Undergraduate Chemistry

REU and Undergraduate Summer Research Opportunities

The Chemistry Department offers summer research opportunities to chemistry majors and students from other universities.  Participating in summer research can help jump-start your career.  

Stephen and Patricia Benkovic Summer Research Award in Chemistry

The Benkovic Summer Research Award in Chemistry provides financial support to undergraduate students conducting summer research at Penn State.  The award is funded through a generous endowment established by Stephen and Patricia Benkovic.  Professor Benkovic is the Evan Pugh University Professor and Eberly Chair in Chemistry who joined the department in 1965.  For his groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of enzyme catalysis in complex biological systems, he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1985, received the National Medal of Science in 2009 and the National Academy of Science Award in Chemical Sciences in 2011, among many other honors and awards. 
The intent of the award is to enrich the undergraduate chemistry experience by providing research opportunities for the next generation of Penn State chemists and to stimulate a life-long passion for creative exploration.
Eligibility: Undergraduate chemistry majors who are conducting research with chemistry faculty at University Park during the summer of 2022 are eligible to apply.  The committee will also consider applications from pre-ETM chemistry majors working with UP chemistry faculty, non-chemistry majors (post-ETM in their respective major) working with UP chemistry faculty, and chemistry majors (post-ETM) working with non-chemistry UP faculty.
An application consists of your:

  1. Name and Penn State email address
  2. Name of your summer research faculty adviser
  3. Unofficial copy of your transcript
  4. A one-page description of the proposed research
  5. A one-page statement on how the award aligns with your educational and career goals

The online application for is available here.

Online Application Deadline:  March 4, 2022
The awards committee will request a letter of support from your summer faculty research adviser once you have submitted the online application.  There will be a short deadline for letters of support so please notify your summer research adviser once you have submitted the online application.
The summer undergraduate research program runs for 10 weeks from May 27-August 6, 2022.  The award comes with a $3500 stipend.  All Benkovic Awardees are required:

  1. To attend several scheduled events throughout the 10-week summer program.
  2. To present a short talk of their work to an audience of students and faculty and a poster at a Penn State/ECoS-sponsored undergraduate research symposium. We will provide training and assistance in preparing both the poster and oral presentation. 
  3. Participate in one Department of Chemistry recruitment event.

For additional information contact Dr. Dan Sykes (dgs12).

Summer REU Program

The Department of Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Program gives undergraduate students opportunities to participate in frontier chemistry research at a major research facility.

The National Science Foundation funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program focuses on catalysis and dynamics. You can perform research with the listed participating faculty on any of the topics of the REU program: we match your interests with those of current faculty.

Applications for summer 2022 are currently being accepted and will close on February 21, 2022. 

Possible Undergraduate Research Projects

About the Program

The Penn State Department of Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Program hosts undergraduate students with support both from the National Science Foundation Division of Chemistry and from the 3M Foundation. This program gives visiting undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research at a major research facility. The Chemistry Department at Penn State University was recently ranked among the top 10% of departments in the United States and is a major research facility with 36 research faculty and more than 200 graduate students.

These summer positions are:

  • open to undergraduate students who are majoring in chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering etc. and who have an interest in research in chemistry.

Direct research experience is one of the most effective ways to prepare undergraduates for careers in mathematics, science and engineering.  Come to Penn State Chemistry to:

  • work closely with a faculty member, and the graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in his or her research group
  • get hands-on experience in the challenging and exciting work in chemistry research
  • acquire valuable skills, participate in seminars, and join in a variety of extra-curricular activities.

One of our central goals is to provide the opportunity to do research to students who would not normally have the chance to do so. This group especially includes women, first generation college students, multicultural minority students, LGBTQ+ students, individuals with disabilities, and veterans, whose talents will make important contributions to the nation's scientific resources for the future.

Penn State is one of the largest land-grant universities, with approximately 45,000 undergraduates and graduate students at the University Park campus during the academic year.

Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Lara Sittler at (814) 865-3014 in advance of your participation or visit.


If you're interested in learning more about research projects within the program, view our complete list of Possible Undergraduate Research Projects.

If you'd like to learn more about chemistry research at Penn State, visit our research home page

Applications for summer 2022 are currently being accepted and will close on February 21, 2022. 

The main criteria for selection will be the student's academic record and letters. We will also take into account the student's enthusiasm for chemistry, and interest in career goals related to chemistry research. The central aim to the selection process is to identify students who are well qualified, who have a keen interest in chemistry, and who want to find out whether a career in chemistry research is right for them.


If you have read the  requirements and are eligible to apply, there are two steps. Please:

1) Create a Friends of Penn State account at:

2) Complete the online application (we recommend opening in a new window to keep the below instructions open) following the directions below:

Indicate two faculty members from whom we will request recommendations (please do not send these separately). We recommend that these letters be from your faculty advisor and a chemistry professor.

  • In your statement of research interests, Indicate your first, second and third choice of research project topics
  • Send an official transcript by regular mail to:

                Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Program
                c/o The Department of Chemistry
                The Pennsylvania State University
                104 Chemistry Building
                University Park, PA 16802

  • After submitting, you may log back in at any time to check the status of your application

If you have questions or comments about the application please contact us at

Program Information

The program will run Tuesday, May 31 - Saturday, August 6, 2022.  
It is expected that students will normally be working here at Penn State throughout this time. If these dates conflict with your school's academic schedule please let us know on your application form. It may be possible to arrange alternative dates in some cases.

  • Must be a US citizen or permanent resident to apply

  • Students should have successfully completed core courses in science and math

  • Applicants must be majoring in chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering or related majors

  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.00

Students will receive a stipend of $6,000 for the ten-week summer research program.

We will be able to reimburse out-of-state students for travel expenses to and from Penn State. The University Park campus is located in central Pennsylvania, in the town of State College. State College is about a three hour drive or bus ride from Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and about four hours from Philadelphia, Washington DC or New York. Flights into State College are available through Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago O'Hare or Washington Dulles. For more information about traveling to State College, visit Penn State  visitors' guide webpage.

Visiting REU participants will be housed in apartments that are a short walk from the Department of Chemistry. Students will be responsible for making their own arrangements for meals. A number of restaurants are available both on and off campus. On campus meal plans are available. Convenience and grocery stores are also within easy reach should students want to use the apartment kitchens and microwave ovens will also be provided.

Please let us know if you will be staying in the housing provided.  Parking is an option but will be an extra charge.

Weekly breakfast seminars: Throughout the ten week period we will have a weekly seminar where faculty will describe their work or other exciting current developments in their field or invited speakers come in from the chemical industry. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.

Orientation: A two day orientation to meet your cohort, take tours of Penn State, as well as our onsite science facilities such as the NMR facility and Materials Characterization Lab (MCL) and professional development seminars on reading the scientific literature and honing your personal statement. We will even make sure that we take a stop at Penn State’s world famous Creamery. The first full day on campus will be spent on an orientation tour of the chemistry department, research facilities, libraries, and Penn State campus. This tour also includes recreation and cultural facilities, and other resource centers. You will meet your faculty advisor and the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in your research group. During the second day, we offer an introductory safety course and a workshop on utilizing library and electronic resources. Additional professional development workshops will continue throughout the summer.

Broader Impacts: The Art of Science (Children’s Creative Activities on Old Main’s Lawn): You will have the opportunity to give back to the local community by running a science demo booth at the annual Children’s & Youth Day. You will develop, plan and organize a science booth that will be inviting to kids of all ages to have fun with science.

Field Trip: We will take a one-day trip to visit a prominent chemical company in the greater Philly area. You will have the opportunity to meet with industrial researchers as well as tour their labs,  hear from them on their industrial research projects, as well as career panel – what is it really like to work in industry, how did they choose this path?

Social events and outdoor activities are limitless in Happy Valley; home of Penn State and the surrounding State College community). During the summer there are numerous festivals that are going on throughout the summer such as 4th Fest, Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (Arts Fest), People’s Choice, and Wing Fest to name a few. Various state and local parks are just a short drive away (or walk from campus), or catch a minor league game (State College is home to the Spikes), as well as taking advantage of such activities on campus such as golf, tennis, swimming, biking and running. In the past, students have organized weekend trips to NYC or visited Hershey Park.

Symposium: At the end of the summer students will present their work at a symposium. Each student will present a short talk and poster about their research to an audience of students and faculty advisors. We will provide training and assistance in preparing both the poster and oral presentation. In 2019, over 120 students participating in undergraduate research across campus took part in the symposium, giving students broad exposure to research at Penn State and experience presenting their work in a professional meeting environment.


Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Program c/o The Department of Chemistry
The Pennsylvania State University
104 Chemistry Building
University Park, PA 16802