REU 2022, 2023 (Archive)

Advanced Materials Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

The University of California San Diego MRSEC Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program provides full-time summer undergraduate research opportunities at the forefront of materials science and engineering.  Participants in our highly collaborative and interdisciplinary program, which focuses on predictive assemblies and engineered living materials, will be fully immersed in the research laboratories of the MRSEC faculty from 5 departments across campus (Chemistry and Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Molecular Biology, NanoEngineering, Physics), as they engage in projects with a focus in either or both experiment and theory.

NSF-REU MRSEC students can expect to be:

• exposed to the grand challenges in the field of materials science;
• trained in computational, nanotechnological, and biological methods aimed at making new materials;
• provided mentoring and academic/professional development opportunities, including the potential to produce publishable research and participate in professional conferences.

2023 REU applications will open up in Fall 2022. Please check back in the Fall. 

Program Details:

Duration: Monday, June 26 - Friday, August 18 (8 weeks). Trainees will have the option to extend their paid laboratory research participation by up to 2 weeks (10 weeks maximum).

Programming: Extensive training and mentoring (by faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students) in cutting-edge materials science research is accompanied by weekly research seminars, industrial field trips, biweekly professional development workshops (safety and research ethics, science communication, information literacy, graduate school preparation), and social networking/recreation.

Expectations: Full-time commitment to extensive lab work and engagement in program activities, including presentation at UC San Diego’s Summer Undergraduate Research Conference in mid-August.

Support: $600/week stipend (stipend includes allowance for meals*). The program additionally provides on-campus housing and reimbursement of travel expenses up to $500.

Eligibility: This research program is open to undergraduate students in science and engineering at any 2- or 4-year institution who are:

  • interested in gaining rigorous research experience in materials science and engineering;
  • majoring in engineering (chemical, bio-, nano-, electrical and other), materials science, chemistry, biology, or physics; and
  • citizens or permanent residents of the US or US territories, as stipulated by the NSF.

Faculty: Applicants will be asked to select, in a ranked order, up to three faculty whose laboratory they would like to be assigned to, based on their research interests. The list of faculty participating in the REU program is subject to change each year. Please refer to our faculty page.

UC San Diego and our MRSEC are committed to the achievement of excellence and diversity among faculty, staff, and students. Women and minority applicants, veterans and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply to our NSF REU program.

Note: No prior research experience is necessary.; There is no minimum GPA requirement; There is no minimum class standing requirement

*On-campus meal plans will be available for purchase, for more information, visit

2022 REU Participants

Diego Contreras Mora

Diego is an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University (class of 2022) majoring in chemical engineering. He is participating in the RIMSE summer school on Predictive Assembly as part of the UC San Diego MRSEC REU program. Diego’s computational research with plasmonics, and experience in the semiconductor industry, has nurtured an interest in exploring the intersection between computational work and fabrication. Diego hopes to continue his studies as a doctoral student following his graduation in December.

Ian Douglas

Ian is an undergraduate engineering science student at the University of Rochester. He is interested in renewable energy and quantum materials, and will be participating in the Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology as a UC San Diego MRSEC REU student.

Daniel Esterkin

Daniel is an undergraduate student at The Pennsylvania State University (Class of 2023) majoring in physics and minoring in nanotechnology. Daniel's main research interests include condensed matter physics and nanotechnology. Daniel is a UC San Diego MRSEC REU 2022 participant working in Prof. Jinhye Bae's lab, he is also partaking in the 2022 RIMSE summer school for Engineering Living Materials.

Sydnee Farnsworth

Sydnee is an undergraduate student transferring to Arizona State University in Spring 2024 (Class of 2025). She is currently pursuing a degree in Materials Science and Engineering. She plans to use her knowledge to help lessen the impact caused on the planet. Her interest in materials science involves chemistry, engineering, biology as well as biomimicry. In her free time, she likes to play piano, go skiing, learn French and catch bugs.

Andrew Finebaum

Andrew is a rising senior at Boston University (Class of 2023) majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in mechanical engineering and mathematics. He is a MRSEC 2022 REU and RIMSE summer school on  Engineered Living Materials participant. His primary research interests include tissue engineering and biomaterials. Currently at the Golden Lab he is working on genetic engineering and molecular cloning of cyanobacteria in hydrogels.

Serena Geroe

Serena is an undergraduate at Smith College (class of 2024), participating in the Summer School for Nanotechnology as part of the UC San Diego MRSEC REU program. She is pursuing a major in Engineering Science and a minor in Computer Science. In her free time, she enjoys playing funk and jazz guitar, reading, and fencing.

Michelle Luces

Michelle is an undergraduate student at University of Guam pursuing a degree in Chemistry and Mathematics. She is interested in exploring clean energy and sustainability, specifically in energy storage and CO2 conversion. She is excited to pursue her interests this summer by participating in UC San Diego MRSEC 2022 REU program and the RIMSE summer school on Predictive Assembly.

Kara Lui

Kara is a Chemical Engineering major at Northeastern University, also pursuing a minor in Materials Science. She will be participating in Summer School for Nanotechnology (SSSiN) as part of the UC San Diego MRSEC REU program. In her free time, she enjoys playing violin, swimming, and dancing.

Allison McKenzie

Allison will graduate from Case Western Reserve University in 2023. She majors in biomedical engineering on the biomaterials track with a polymers minor. She wants to eventually work in drug delivery focusing on creating better mental health meds. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling and going to the beach.

Paola Méndez

Paola V. Méndez is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering. She is a part of the MRSEC RIMSE summer school on Engineered Living Materials and her research interests are in polymeric materials. In her free time, Paola enjoys spending time with friends and family, swimming, and going to the beach.

Azeh Ndifor

Azeh is a Rising Sophomore at the Georgia Institute of Technology studying Biomedical Engineering.  He has interests in biomaterials and regenerative medicine, and is a member of the 2022 RIMSE summer school on Engineered Living Materials.

Thuy Khanh Nguyen

Khanh is a rising junior who will major in Bioengineering at University of California, Los Angeles this Fall 2022 (Class of 2024). Khahn is a UC San Diego MRSEC 2022 REU participant, also partaking in the 2022 RIMSE summer school on Engineered Living Materials. Passionate about plastics environmental issues and materials science, she is interested in exploring mechanisms to engineer bio-based polymers that will be biodegradable at their end-of-life, serving as alternatives to single used plastics.

Laurel Wagner

Laurel is an undergraduate chemical engineering student at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (class of 2025). This summer, she is participating in the UC San Diego MRSEC's RIMSE summer school on Engineered Living Materials, and is also a 2022 REU participant. She is currently researching potential esterases through protein purification and assay development in Dr. Stephen Mayfield's lab. Her interests lie in photovoltaics and polymer applications.

Leon Zhang

Leon is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Irvine (class of 2023), majoring in physics. He has previously undergone research work exploring optical applications of novel materials, which sparked his interest in material science. As part of UC San Diego MRSEC's 2022 REU program, he will be investigating a simulation approach to describe effects of rotation on conductive polymers.

2023 REU Participants

Estrada, Yulianna

ORCID: 0009-0009-7734-2045
BIO: Yulianna is an undergraduate student at Boston University majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in nanotechnology on the pre-medicine track. Yulianna is interested in integrating nanotechnology and medicine in order to apply them to the development of prosthetics, nanomedicine, bioimaging devices and more.

Gomez, Mynel

ORCID: 0009-0006-1805-4885
BIO: Mynel is an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in Metallurgical & Materials Engineering with a concentration on Extractive and Process Metallurgy. She plans to pursue a master's degree in the same field as the next step toward her career goal: to contribute to the development of new industrial processes and materials for a sustainable future. Since a young age, she experienced the cultural and social difference between Mexico and the US, and developed an interest in nature, chemistry, and different types of art such as music, dance, and sculpture.


Kret, Rita

ORCID: 0000-0003-3207-7259
BIO: Rita Kret is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering at the Ohio State University. She is interested in creating more efficient and accessible renewable energy. In her free time, Rita likes to read, hike, and brush up on her French and Arabic.

Lucsik, Ethan

ORCID: 0000-0001-8080-0144
BIO: Ethan Lucsik is an undergraduate student at CSU Long Beach (class of 2025) currently pursuing a degree in Biochemistry. His research within the laboratory of Dr. Fangyuan Tian explores the stability of an iron based MOF in diverse chemical environments. Outside of the laboratory, he enjoys the outdoors through mountain biking and surfing.

Mapa, Jacob

ORCID: 0009-0009-8935-641X
BIO: Jacob Mapa is an undergraduate Bioengineering student at UC Riverside (class of 2025). He will be participating in the SSSiN as part of the 2023 UCSD SDNI REU program. Excited to advance the frontiers of nanotechnology, Jacob aims to discover the biomedical advantages of using porous silicon nanoparticles.

Ruff, Christian

ORCID: 0009-0003-0599-5457
BIO: Christian Ruff is an undergraduate Chemistry major at the University of South Carolina. His interests span nanotechnology and their applications in energy devices and the environment. Currently, he conducts research in Dr. Morgan Stefik's group on block copolymers that afford nanostructured materials. In his free time, he loves to learn languages, exercise, and watch random YouTube videos.

Sandoval, Daniel

ORCID: 0009-0006-5009-7340
BIO: Daniel is a first-generation college student at Rio Hondo College who comes from a hardworking Mexican family. Daniel is excited to be conducting research for the first time. His love for applying physics and science to help others motivates him to one day pursue doctoral studies in biomedical engineering.

Stoneburner, Julia

ORCID: 0009-0003-7278-430X
BIO: Julia Stoneburner is a bioengineering undergraduate at UCLA and a transfer from Foothill Community College in the Bay Area. She will be participating in SSSiN as part of the SDNI REU program. Outside of academics she enjoys creating art, being outdoors, and working on her engineering design team. She is excited to explore nanotechnology applications in bioengineering.

Thompson, Elizabeth

ORCID: 0009-0002-9832-980X
BIO: Elizabeth Thompson is a current biochemistry and molecular biology student at Truman State University. She is currently in an organic synthesis lab working on synthesizing a potential drug targeting a protein found in late-stage and hard-to-treat cancers, and also does work in a physiology lab at A.T. Still University doing molecular biology research. In addition to STEM, she loves spending time with dogs, making music, and hiking.