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Stories about...Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

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Mary Cook NCSA Summer Research Exposes Undergrads to Open Source Software, Possible Future Careers

August 4, 2020

Exactly what is open source software? During the summer of 2020, thanks to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), four undergraduate students who participated in the REU INCLUSION (Incubating a New Community of Leaders Using Software, Inclusion, Innovation, Interdisciplinary and OpeN-Science) discovered just what open source software is: mostly free software whose source code is made publicly available so users can modify it to suit their needs. As part of this Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), the students also helped to develop and contribute to some primarily open-source software projects. However, this software-in-research training experience was not just about exploring open source software and programming; students also received professional development, learned about how to present research then actually did so, plus made some relationships and networked with Computer Science researchers. In addition, a fifth student, a returnee from last year's REU INCLUSION, also conducted research as a part of NCSA’s International Research Internship.

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Laura Schissler Via ISUR, Engineering Undergrads Conduct Research, Present at Virtual Expo

May 8, 2020

As in years past, Grainger College of Engineering’s Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research (ISUR) Program provided support for students conducting research alongside Illinois researchers during summer 2019 and the 2019–2020 school year. However, unlike its predecessors, the virtual edition of ISUR’s Research Expo 2020, held from April 24th­–May 1st lacked a crowded room full of brightly colored posters. Also missing weas the cacophony of voices simultaneously discussing research as students presented to visitors face to face. Due to COVID-19, this sort of venue was prohibited. However, just like its predecessors, the spring 2020 Expo gave undergraduate researchers a chance to share their research with interested peers, colleagues, and visitors. Each of this year’s crop of students created a poster or PowerPoint, presented their research orally, and even “stood” ready to field visitors’questions…all facilitated virtually.

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I-MRSEC REU Exposes Undergrads to Materials Science, Research, and What Grad School Is Like

August 20, 2019

For ten weeks this past summer, eleven undergraduate students from all over the US showed up at Illinois to participate in I-MRSEC’s second Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. As part of the experience, they not only conducted a research project, but they completed a paper and gave a final presentation. Of the 11 students, five were from Illinois (mostly from the Chicago area); six were from out of state (Tennessee, Oregon, Texas, and California). And although none of them are currently Illinois students, after experiencing what cutting-edge research at Illinois is like, some will most likely be applying to grad school here.

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A NRES junior, Alondra Estrada.NRES Junior Alondra Estrada Passionate About Environmental Science, Research, and…Turtles!

September 11, 2018

Growing up in Adison Illinois, Alondra Estrada, a first-generation Hispanic college student, wasn’t even sure she’d be going to college. Then she came to an Illinois summer camp and, as a result, she changed her mind about becoming a veterinarian and decided to study environmental science in Then, for the last two summers, she participated in the WE CAN which further muddied the waters regarding her next step career wise. Should she become an animal photographer, go to grad school and become an environmental scientist, or, go for her dream job, an environmental lawyer? While she isn’t sure what the future holds, she does know this: her many experiences have given her a lot of great career options.

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Alondra EstradaIllinois Summer Research Symposium Showcases Undergraduates’ REU Experiences

August 14, 2018

On July 19–20, 2018, over 150 undergraduate students and pre-doctoral students presented posters at the 2018 Illinois Summer Research Symposium (ISRS) as a culmination of their summer research experiences at Illinois. The students not only conducted studies in the labs of some of Illinois’ world-renowned researchers, but many of them were part of undergraduate programs that also partnered with SROP, the Graduate College’s Summer Research Opportunities Program. This allowed the undergrads to participate in professional development activities, many of them in preparation for possibly continuing their education and research in graduate school, and also provided the students networking opportunities.

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Undergrad Brione Griffin Gets One Step Closer to Her Dream of Becoming a Doctor Via REACH RCEU

July 25, 2018

Brione Griffin’s career goals have always been “to be a doctor—be a doctor and help people out.” So when she learned about REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care) RCEU (a Research Experience for Undergraduates with an added clinical component), sponsored and funded by the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine, she was intrigued. "I think it's something I've loved all my life,” Griffin says regarding her passion for science, biology, and medicine. She shares an anecdote about how she got interested in those.

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WE CAN REU Provides Minority Students an International Experience, Research at the Intersection of Engineering and Agriculture

July 20, 2018

The six minority undergraduate students who participated in the USDA-funded WE CAN (Wildlife Engineers Co-managing Agriculture in Nature) REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates), spent the summer of 2018 learning what conducting research is like. However, because We CAN is a two-summer program, this summer’s research opportunity followed on the heels of last summer’s 4-week trip to South Africa where participants collaborated with South African students to do ag-related engineering projects. According to Agricultural and Biological Engineering Assistant Professor Paul Davidson, the focus of WE CAN was to recruit underrepresented minorities and train them for careers in agriculture. Of the six WE CAN fellows, three are African American, and three are Hispanic. And it just so happens that all six are female. “That wasn’t on purpose,” Co-PI Michelle Green, a Research Assistant Professor in Animal Sciences, qualifies, “but they were our best matches for the program.”

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Underrepresented Minority Undergraduate Students Gain Research, Clinical Experience Via the Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s New REACH RCEU

July 19, 2018

There’s a new RCEU in town, REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care), sponsored and funded by the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine. What’s an RCEU? It’s an REU (a Research Experience for Undergraduates) with a clinical component in addition to the research. The REACH participants not only gained research and clinical exposure, but a better understanding of the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of the health care system, and research that impacts it.

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REACH Program’s Emphasis of Research Plus Clinical Confirms Alexis Chamorro Ortiz’s Career Goals: To Both Treat and Research Cancer

July 18, 2018

Alexis Chamorro Ortiz didn’t just wake up one morning and decide he wanted to spend the summer after his sophomore year at the University of Puerto Rico doing cancer research at Illinois as part of the REACH (Research and Education for the Advancement of Compassionate Health Care), a new USDA-funded RCEU (Research Experience for Undergraduates with an added clinical component). For most of his childhood, he had watched his grandfather first overcome a brain tumor, then lose his battle with brain cancer when Ortiz was a freshman in high school. “He passed away so quickly, and it made me want to help other people who are like my grandpa,” Ortiz explains.

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Physics Professor Nadya Mason, PI of the I-MRSEC grant.I-MRSEC: Creating a Multidsciplinary Materials Research Community

March 15, 2018

"The more that people understand the scientific basis of the world and of their lives and of what people are doing and researching and care about, the more we care about each other and the more we support each other." – Nadya Mason

Begun in September 2017, I-MRSEC (Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center), a new NSF-funded center, seeks to create a community around multidisciplinary materials science research, recruiting and educating the next generation of researchers, including diverse students, and informing the general public through outreach. Funded through NSF’s Division of Materials, the Center will receive $16 million over the six years of the grant, with the possibility of being renewed.

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At Blue Waters Institute, Students Use Parallel Computing, Super Computers, to Speed Up Research

June 28, 2017

With the goal of learning High-Performance Computing (HPC), 26 students were on campus from May 29th through June 9th as part of the 2017 Blue Waters Institute. While some were graduate students from the XSEDE project, 18 were undergraduate Blue Waters Interns. Not only did these interns spend two weeks learning about parallel computing, but over the next year, they will continue to use their newly acquired HPC skills—and the Blue Waters Super Computer—to analyze data for their Blue Waters research projects back at their home institutions.
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MNTL and its Role in Shaping our Future

July 18, 2016

The Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the largest and most advanced facilities of its kind in the country, home to 16 cleanrooms, 46 general purpose labs, as well as a biosafety level-2 complex, is playing a significant role in solving real world problems and helping bridge the gap between the developing and developed world.

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nano@illinois REU participant Sahil Nayyar REU Undergrads Experience Research, What Graduate School Is Like

August 25, 2015

Twenty-six undergrads helped with cutting-edge research at Illinois this past summer as part of three NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs: the nano@illinois, EBICS, and Bioimaging REUs. In addition to the research experience itself, as a side benefit, participants got to find out what being a graduate student is like and possibly decide if research—particularly the area they were studying this summer—might be the career for them.
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Emily RabeSummer Research Experiences Steer Undergrads Toward STEM Careers

July 27, 2012

Instead of lounging by the pool this summer, a number of undergraduate students have been in Illinois labs—not only conducting research—but possibly figuring out what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
Participants in the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, these students are experiencing what real research is like. For many of them, this experience has also exposed them to what graduate school is like. For others...
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image of male student using laptopITI in first year of NSF grant as "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (REU) Site

October 15, 2009

The Information Trust Institute (ITI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a $357,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” (REU) site.
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