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

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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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Alexandra MoorePOETS REU Fosters Innovative Thinking to Change the Future of Power Dense Electronic Systems

August 15, 2018

Ever wonder what the future of electronics could look like—say over the next decade? As part of the POETS (Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems) ERC's 10-week, NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), 15 students were able to explore the possibilities through authentic research experiences. Additionally, the students were exposed to a variety of educational programs that not only enhanced their knowledge base, and supplemented their research, but also exposed them to and prepared them for STEM careers.

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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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Lisa KanburUndergrads Experience Open Source Software & Interdisciplinary Research Via INCLUSION REU

August 13, 2018

Twelve undergraduate students participated in the second summer of NCSA’s NSF-funded INCLUSION (Incubating a New Community of Leaders Using Software, Inclusion, Innovation, Interdisciplinary and OpeN-Science) REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Students gained skills they hope employ down the road, including coding in a new programming language and using Open Source Software. Plus, they got the chance to prepare a poster and present their research at the July 25th end-of-the-summer Poster Session at the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications). Participants also made some new relationships.

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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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BioE’s Carlos Renteria: Passionate About Education, Curing Alzheimer’s, and Outreach— Particularly Exposing Hispanics to STEM

October 27, 2017

The more you learn, the more you can do. – Carlos Renteria

This was the attitude Carlos Renteria’s dad instilled into him growing up. And it appears to have worked. Currently a PhD student in Bioengineering (BioE) and conducting research in Professor Stephen Boppart’s Biophotonics Imaging Lab, Renteria dreams of becoming a university professor to both teach and do research. And while he’s worked hard to get to where he is today—studying for a Ph.D. at a top engineering school— Renteria says he owes a lot of it to his dad.

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POETS’ Education Program Introduces Students of All Ages to Interdisciplinary Research in Electro-Thermal Systems

August 31, 2017

In addition to cutting-edge research in electro-thermal systems, the NSF-funded POETS (Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems) Engineering Research Center has educational programs that expose students (as well as the teachers) to POETS’ research via educational activities, research, and courses that foster interdisciplinary collaboration and expose learners to the unique research that takes place in the Center.

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INCLUSION REU Seeks to Foster Diversity While Exposing Undergrads to Coding Via Open Source Software

August 21, 2017

“We're doing this because we would like to get students that wouldn't have the opportunity otherwise to think about software, to learn about open source software, and then potentially be able to use that in either graduate school or in industry.” – Daniel S. Katz, PI

Ten undergraduate students were on campus this summer to participate in NCSA’s new 3-year REU, INCLUSION (Incubating a New Community of Leaders Using Software, Inclusion, Innovation, Interdisciplinary and OpeN-Science), funded through the NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyber Infrastructure. The goals of the REU are to enable ten undergraduate students each year to develop software and contribute to software projects, specifically Open Source Software projects; to make the population of software developers more diverse; and to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration across all fields with projects led by two mentors from different disciplines. Student participants gained skills they hope to use in the future: they learned about Open Source Software and programming; they learned how to present research; plus they made some relationships and networked.

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POETS’ REU Exposes Undergrad Students to Electro-Thermal Systems Research

August 21, 2017

Ever notice how much heat your electronic devices give off? Four undergraduate students had an opportunity this summer to not only learn about this issue, but possibly help do something about it as part of the 10-week REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) sponsored by the POETS (Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems) Engineering Research Center.

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Bioimaging REU Exposes Undergrads to Imaging Research, What Grad School is Like

July 18, 2017

In its third summer, the Bioimaging Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) allowed four undergraduate students to experience research on imaging. Not only did they learn about the specific area they were researching; but they acquired new skills related to imaging; gained professional skills, such as how to present their research; plus learned what graduate school is like. For some, it confirmed that graduate school/research was in their future.

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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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POETS REU Helps Illinois Undergrad Sabrina Yin Choose Her Career Path

August 22, 2016

Most REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) participants have an opportunity to conduct research for 8–10 weeks during the summer. Their experience then culminates in a poster session—the highlight of the summer—which gives the undergrad the chance to hone his or her skills while creating a research poster and reporting results. However, POETS REU participant Sabrina Yin, a rising junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Illinois, is doing more than just a couple of months worth of research in the summer. Yin began working in researcher Nenad Miljkovic’s Energy Transport Research Lab in March, participated in the REU this summer, and will continue her research in the lab this fall and beyond. “This research project that I’m working on will run for another two years approximately. So I’ll be staying in the lab to help out with the research,” she explains.

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2016 Chemistry REU Offers Undergraduate Students a Glimpse of Grad Life

August 16, 2016

This summer at Illinois, five undergraduate students were chosen to be a part of the Chemistry REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program to get a glimpse of what research in graduate school looks like. Allison Fout, the PI for this REU, which currently is solely funded by 3M, said that out of 270 applicants, only five were chosen. According to Fout, applicants were selected based upon the following criteria: “Their grades, their letters of recommendation, their experience. (You could really gain experience by coming here)" she adds. Plus, she indicates that the final criteria was: "students that were interested in pursuing chemistry in the future. All of those things were part of what we were looking at.”

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Undergrads Consider Nanotechnology Careers Thanks to nano@illinois REU

August 10, 2016

During the summer of 2016, ten undergraduate students learned about nanotechnology as part of the NSF-funded nano@illinois Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). While spending the summer performing research in the labs of some of Illinois’ premier researchers, the students not only learned a lot about the area in nanotechnology that they were studying; they learned what grad school is like and got some pointers on how to apply. Finally, many of them discovered that they liked research…a lot. In fact, some even decided that the area they researched over the summer was the area they wanted to concentrate on in the future.
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Undergrads in Bioimaging REU Experience What Research, Graduate School Is Like

July 29, 2016

Ten undergraduate students from around the country participated in the NSF-funded Bioimaging Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Working alongside researchers in Illinois labs, they discovered the exciting world of bioimaging research, got a taste of what graduate school is like, and some might have discovered what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

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Wendy Reyes Learns Life Skills in Bioimaging REU

July 29, 2016

When rising junior Wendy Reyes spent the summer doing research in Professor Michael Insana’s Ultrasonic Imaging Lab as part of the 2016 Bioimaging REU, she learned a lot.She learned some research skills: how to train software to recognize cancer in the images of breast tissue.

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Bioimaging REU's Matt Kavanaugh Experiences Cancer Research at Illinois

July 29, 2016

Matt Kavanaugh had originally applied to Illinois as an undergraduate, but finances prevented him from coming here. So he matriculated to the University of Kansas, where the rising junior is majoring in Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Biomedical. However, when searching for something productive to do over the summer, he came across the NSF-funded Bioimaging Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Illinois.

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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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Rumya Raghavannano@illinois REU Undergrads Experience Growth Via Nanotechnology Research

August 27, 2015

"I definitely think the best learning experiences are those that push you out of your comfort zone." – Rumya Raghavan

Eleven undergraduate students spent the summer working in the labs of some of Illinois' world-class researchers as part of the 10-week nano@illinois REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Not only did participants perform nanotechnology research, but they were challenged both professionally and personally as they learned new things about nanotechnology, about life in a research lab, and about themselves. As a result of their experience, some decided that graduate school might be in their future; some even considering careers in nanotechnology research.
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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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EBICS REU participant Solomon McBride2015 EBICS REU Introduces Undergrads to the World of Research, Graduate School

August 25, 2015

While performing cutting-edge research at Illinois this past summer as part of the NSF-funded EBICS (Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Celllular Systems) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), the five students gained more than a deeper understanding of the subject they were studying; they learned time management, networked with researchers, and experienced what it's like to be graduate students.
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REU participant Casey TroccoliSummer Research Experience Exposes Undergrads to Bioimaging at Illinois

August 24, 2015

One goal of the NSF-funded Bioengineering REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) was that students who participated this summer would consider going to graduate school, and hopefully in bioimaging—and it appears they might have achieved that goal. The ten undergrads who participated in the REU not only performed cutting-edge bioimaging research; they also found out what grad school is like, and some even decided that the area they researched this summer might be the career for them—and that Illinois is the place to prepare for it.
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Hannah LantChemistry REU Increases Likelihood That Students Choose STEM/Research Careers

August 30, 2013

Fourteen young researchers from all over the U.S. were on campus this summer participating in a 10-week Chemistry REU program (Research Experience for Undergraduates) funded by the National Science Foundation. These undergrads experienced firsthand what research in chemistry is like at a world-class university— and what being a grad student might be like.
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EBICS REU undergrad Madeline TolishEBICS REU Students Experience Research on Biological Machines

August 29, 2013

Not too long ago, the five undergrad students who spent the summer in Illinois labs could only have encountered biological machines in one place—straight out of Sci-Fi. But as part of EBICS' (Emergent Behavior of Integrated Cellular Systems) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, these students got to conduct research in ground-breaking new areas like biological machines and biomedical engineering.
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Ryan TappingEBICS REU Student Contributes to Research on Neuron Cells

September 27, 2012

Rather than lazing the summer away like some of his peers, Ryan Tapping, an Illinois undergraduate student, spent his productively—making a significant contribution to research. The experiment? Studying how neuron cells from a rat brain form clusters.

Participating in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, Tapping worked with faculty member Martha Gillette, who is part of EBICS (Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems)...
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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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