Advanced Materials Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

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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.

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: 1) exposed to the grand challenges in the field of materials science; 2) trained in computational, nanotechnological, and biological methods aimed at making new materials; and 3) provided mentoring and academic/professional development opportunities, including the potential to produce publishable research and participate in professional conferences.


Program Details: REU participants will be integrated into the concurring Research Immersion in Materials Science and Engineering (RIMSE) Summer Schools. Focused on materials science research in topics of interest to the UC San Diego MRSEC, each of the four RIMSE Summer Schools are run by MRSEC faculty who serve as senior mentors and/or instructors. Each RIMSE begins with an intensive training in theory, techniques and laboratory methods, and includes  a capstone “Discovery Project”—an independent research project implemented by the trainee in a small team and under the mentorship of a current UC San Diego MRSEC researcher. Though each Summer School runs its own topical curriculum, they share common activities including:

  • Training on several of the key analytical instruments used in materials science (in the MRSEC Materials Characterization Facility).
  • “Pathways” luncheon seminars given by academic, industry, and government laboratory scientists that give insights into STEM career paths.
  • Professional development workshops (research safety, research ethics, science communication, information literacy, graduate school/career preparation).
  • Team building activities including nature hikes, beach days, and a kayak tour of the La Jolla cove.
  • A final projects day oral presentation at the UC San Diego Summer Research Conference (SRC).

Each school emphasizes different research aspects related to the MRSEC, including soft materials and biomaterials, self-assembled materials, and computational design, and they share a set of core training elements focused on: research-critical instrumentation (electron microscopy, Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, x-ray and electron diffraction methods); integration of computational methods; critical laboratory safety and the safe handling of chemical, biological, and nanotechnological hazards; and research ethics.

Duration: June 24 - Aug. 16 (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.

2024 Applications Closed

Please check back in Fall/Winter 2024 for 2025 Application Information

2024 REU Participants

Caldwell, Olivia

ORCID: 0009-0005-0215-5393
BIO: Olivia is an undergraduate honors student at Western Washington University, and she will graduate in 2025 with a B.S in Chemistry and minors in Communications and Materials Science. She is eagerly planning to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry or Materials Science.  She looks forward to exploring the intersection of engineering and chemistry including polymer chemistry, photovoltaics, and semiconducting materials. She also has strong interest in the world of optics and photonics, including optoelectronic materials and the development of new analytical characterization tools.

Fan, Emily

ORCID: 0009-0009-3597-8344
BIO: Emily is a rising junior (Class of 2026) at Cornell University studying Fiber Science in the department of Human Centered Design. She is participating in the 2024 SSELM, and is especially looking forward to learning more about development of biomedical materials. Her current projects involve valorization of plant matter in the form of fibers and textiles, and she is interested in pushing the potentials of textiles in applications of regenerative medicine. In her spare time, she enjoys sewing, playing taiko, and baking.

Geddy, Julia

ORCID: 0009-0009-5922-9284
BIO: Julia is a Biomedical Engineering major at CSU Long Beach (class of 2027) and will be participating in the 2024 Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology (SSSiN) at UCSD. She is very passionate about nature, the ocean, biology and medicine and is excited to learn more about biomaterials and the various applications of silicone nanotechnology. In her free time she enjoys surfing, live music, and skating. She hopes to channel her passion into a career in biomedical research and development.

Gorman, Mary

ORCID: 0009-0000-0309-2674
BIO: Mary Grace is a chemical engineering transfer student from Southwestern College, Chula Vista, participating in UCSD's SDNI summer REU program.  She has a passion for mathematics and chemistry and is excited to delve into nanotechnological research.  She enjoys writing science fiction and going on road trips in her free time.

Hubbard, Michael

ORCID: 0000-0002-8213-4146
BIO: Michael is an undergraduate student at Reed College (Class of 2026) where they are completing their studies in chemistry. Their main area of chemical interest is physical organic chemistry, particularly investigating mechanistic descriptions of chemical processes. In their free time, they enjoy playing ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and billiards, as well as making music with their friends.

Javiel, Miguel

ORCID: 0009-0003-5364-7086
BIO: Miguel is a first-year student at Florida International University, majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He has engaged in undergraduate research within Dr. Hutcheson's lab, where his focus has been on developing an in-vitro model of calcification using the MOVAS-1 cell line. Additionally, Miguel has collaborated with Dr. Dickerson on the development of photocrosslinkable dECM (decellularized extracellular matrix) hydrogels. Miguel is enthusiastic about continuing to conduct research and is eager to participate in the 2024 MRSEC REU program. In his free time, he enjoys photography, concerts, and hanging out with friends.

Johnson, Anna

ORCID: 0009-0001-1045-1708
BIO: Anna is a rising senior at Case Western Reserve University, where she is pursuing a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. She is currently working at a pathology lab at CWRU, where they are studying the functional organization of the nucleolus in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In her free time, Anna enjoys volunteering at a local hospital, baking, thrifting, and reading Russian and Japanese literature.

Lampkin, Caasi

ORCID: 0009-0007-0908-1213
BIO: Caasi is an undergraduate Biology student at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (class of 2025). She has a passion for microbiology and genetics. Caasi is truly excited to reemerge herself in nano-science research. She has a background in the simulation of the structure and function of carbon nanotubes at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. Beyond academia, Caasi enjoys reading, attending concerts, and trying numerous creative outlets.

Matthews, Ellen

ORCID: 0009-0006-4052-4695
BIO: Ellen is a rising junior chemistry major at Macalester College participating in the 2024 Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology (SSSiN). She is excited to investigate the interdisciplinary intersections of nanotechnology, chemistry, and biology. Outside of school, Ellen sings in choir, is enthused about playing bananagrams, and enjoys spending time in the sun.

Mukherjee, Shayan

ORCID: 0009-0007-8791-2481
BIO: Shayan is an undergraduate student at UCSB (Class of 2026) majoring in Chemistry/Biochemistry under the College of Creative Studies. Shayan is interested in applying chemistry into nanotechnology and engineering, and exploring the interface of materials research. In the future, Shayan plans to pursue a masters in materials science and engineering with an interest in the semiconductor/electronics industry.

O'Brien, Chaniay

ORCID: 0009-0000-4026-5909
BIO: Chaniay, a rising junior at Kean University (class of 2026), majoring in Biotechnology/Molecular Biology and is participating in the 2024 Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology (SSSiN). She is deeply committed to utilizing scientific advancements to improve people's lives. With prior experience in drug discovery research, Chaniay eagerly anticipates delving into the realm of silicon nanotechnology and its applications in biomedical sciences, especially regarding drug delivery.


Osunbor, Ofure

ORCID: 0009-0000-4044-3461
BIO: Ofure is a rising sophomore at the University of Maryland - College Park (class of 2027) majoring in Biocomputational Engineering on the pre-med track, and is participating in the SSSiN 2024. She is interested in drug discovery and delivery and wants to help develop new medical technology. Her academic interests involve computational biology, and she loves to draw, bike, hike, and run in her free time.