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Undergraduate Chemistry
REU and Undergraduate Summer Research Opportunities
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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.  

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 2020 will open December 2, 2019 and close February 15, 2020.

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.

Research 

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

How to Apply

The Summer 2020 application will be open from December 2, 2019 to February 15, 2020.

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.

Instructions:

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: https://accounts.psu.edu/

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 reu@chem.psu.edu.

Program Information

The program will run May 21st to July 31st for the summer of 2020.  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 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 $5,000 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.

Contact 

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

E-mail: reu@chem.psu.edu

Benkovic Scholarship

Planning to participate in research this summer? The Benkovic Summer Research Award can help you fund your chemistry summer research experience. The Benkovic Award provides financial support for undergraduates who are conducting outstanding unpaid summer research on campus under the direction of a faculty member. Only undergraduates who are conducting research in chemistry at University Park during the summer of 2019 are eligible to apply.

How to Apply

To apply, please submit an unofficial transcript and a one-page summary of your summer research plans to Stacy Englert (sle30@psu.edu) by March 15, 2019.  All applications must include a letter of support from the faculty member with whom the student plans to do research with.