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 are due by January 30, 2023! (11:59am Eastern Time)

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 (up to 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.

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

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 below, and subject to change each year. For full list of faculty, please visit our website 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.


Submit your application on NSF ETAP application portal HERE. Applications are due on Monday, January 30, 2023, by 11.59am ET. In addition to completing a registration form and selecting your preferred faculty mentors, you will be asked to submit the following application materials:

  • CV/Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Current Transcript
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation

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

Click here for PDF Flyer

2023 Participating Faculty & Research Focus

Jinhye Bae
Investigating shape morphing of 3D printed stimuli-responsive hydrogel systems.

Michael Burkart
Fundamental understanding of carrier protein biosynthetic pathways, which includes non-ribosomal peptide, polyketide, and fatty acid biosynthesis.

Shaochen Chen
3D bioprinting and biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.

Zheng Chen
Designing and understanding novel materials and chemical processes for energy and environmental applications

Seth Cohen
Synthesis and investigation of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and their polymer composites

David Fenning
Advancing the modeling, characterization, and control of defects in solar cells and the development of new materials and device architectures for solar energy storage.

Joshua Figueroa
Molecular synthesis aimed at the design and control of network and nanoscale materials

Alex Fraño
Investigating long-range periodicities in the spin, charge, and orbital quantum states observed in transition-metal-oxide films, superlattices, heterostructures, and single crystals.



James Golden
Developing improved genetic tools for cyanobacterial genetic engineering and the use of these tools to answer basic-science questions and for biotechnology applications.

Susan Golden
Exploiting the physiological and genetic properties of cyanobacteria for biotech applications.



Jesse Jokerst
Molecular Imaging, in vitro Diagnostics, ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging, regenerative medicine, cancer detection, tumor resection. 

Andrew Kummel
Investigating the chemistry of microelectronics processing using both room temperature (RT) and low temperature (LT) scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and spectroscopy (STS), molecular beams, laser spectroscopy, impedance spectroscopy, and density functional theory (DFT) calculations.

Darren Lipomi
Investigating fundamental and applied studies that relate molecular and nanoscale structure to function, and in devices that incorporate new physical effects to solve real-world problems.

Shaowei Li
Scanning tunneling spectroscopy and microscopy, ultrafast laser spectroscopy and microscopy, surface dynamics and kinetics, low dimensional quantum materials, strongly correlated systems.

Stephen Mayfield
Investigating molecular genetics in green algae, and on the production of therapeutic proteins and biofuel molecules using algae as a production platform.

Tod Pascal
Investigating predictive assembly of nanomaterials with desired properties for energy conversion and storage applications.

Jon Pokorski
Developing novel materials for biomedical applications by pursuing interdisciplinary research that combines chemistry, protein engineering and materials science.

Lisa Poulikakos
Nanophotonics, optical materials, nanomaterials, electromagnetism, biophotonics, biomaterials, diagnostics

Michael Sailor
Synthesizing silicon-based nanomaterials and studying their fundamental chemical, electrochemical, photophysical, and nanomedical properties.

Alina Schimpf
Developing and characterizing inorganic materials with unique electronic or photophysical properties that can be accessed via inexpensive, solution-based techniques.

Valerie Schmidt
Organic Synthesis, Catalysis, Organometallic Synthesis, Methodology Development

Nicole Steinmetz
Design, development, and testing of materials and biologics derived from plant viruses.

Andrea Tao
Synthesis and surface chemistry of nanoscale materials, with an emphasis on developing new approaches for rational assembly and integration into composites and biological systems.

Akif Tezcan
Developing new chemical tools and strategies to study biological nitrogen fixation, to design functional proteins and enzymes, and to create new biomaterials.