Educational Outreach

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

The University of Chicago hosts an NSF-funded Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in molecular engineering program that offers undergraduate students attending non-research colleges or universities the opportunity to gain authentic research experience working in the research labs of Pritzker Molecular Engineering (PME) faculty members.

The program is open to 10 students during a 10-week summer research program and features:

  • Support from a mentoring team of PME researchers;
  • Immersion in the University’s research culture, including faculty research seminars and lab safety and ethics training;
  • Science communication training and the opportunity to present your work to the University community and the general public through a partnership with local museums;
  • Resources and support for the graduate school application process; and
  • Guidance preparing a written report of your work, and optional follow-through support beyond the summer to write technical reports and prepare a paper for submission to a conference.

Possible research project areas include self-assembling polymers for nanomanufacturing, immune system engineering to prevent and treat diseases, quantum material development for next generation information and sensing technologies, and molecular-level energy storage and harvesting tools and techniques.


Evelyn Kurtz (Milwaukee School of Engineering) worked with the Esser-Kahn Group to investigate how different inhibitors bind to proteins to help reduce inflammatory responses to allergens.

Caleb Watson (University of Texas at San Antonio) was part of a team in the Patel Group that created a novel bulk electrolysis technique within a dynamic light scattering apparatus to monitor electrically responsive polymer particle systems in real time.

Matthew Christman’s (Washburn University) project in the Yang Lab involved preparing atomically smooth titanium dioxide substrate used for molecular-beam epitaxy thin film growth.

In her research project in Liu Group, Leeann Sun (University of California, Berkeley) took an electrochemistry approach to extract uranium from solution.


To be an REU participant, you must be a US citizen or permanent resident enrolled in (but not yet graduated from) an accredited undergraduate college degree program with a major in a STEM field.

We select REU program participants from a nationwide pool. Our target students share the following:

  • Strong background in chemistry, physics, biology, or computer science as well as mathematics
  • Sound past academic performance
  • Interest in attending graduate school and pursuing a career in science
  • Currently attending a college or university where research opportunities are limited

We also aim to increase participation by members of traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM (women, minorities) and first-generation college students. 


After you’re chosen to participate in the program, you’ll be registered at the University of Chicago (associated costs and fees will be covered by the program). Benefits include:

  • $6,000 stipend
  • Modest travel allowance
  • Housing and meals for the duration of the program
  • Access to libraries, athletic facilities, and substantial discounts to University-sponsored social and cultural events

How to apply

To apply for the REU program in molecular engineering, complete the online application.

Please complete this interest form to request more information and to be notified when the application for the current cycle opens.


If you have questions, contact Laura Rico-Beck at