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.

Read about the research experiences of three students in the summer 2021 program. 

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.

The Summer 2022 program will run from June 13 - August 19, 2022.

Based on students' preferences and faculty availability, each student will be assigned a faculty mentor and a graduate student/postdoc supervisor and will design a research project in close consultation with those mentors. Active participation in that research project will be the main focus of the summer experience, and students will be expected to participate in research for 40 hours per week for the full 10 weeks. 

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.

PME REU Faculty

Faculty  Research Project Areas
Chibueze Amanchukwu Li-ion battery electrodeposition; electroactive polymers
Juan de Pablo thermotropic liquid crystals; polymer contact electrification
Andrew Ferguson optical supramolecular peptides; self-assembling colloids
Giulia Galli bulk semiconductor properties; excited state engineering
Margaret Gardel epithelial tissue microscopy; force-activated biological proteins
Alex High optical energy concentrators; spin properties of surface states
Chong Liu liquid electrolyte energy storage; bio-inspired membranes
Juan Mendoza cytokine-directed evolution; protein interaction engineering
Stuart Rowan dynamic covalent polymers; liquid crystalline elastomers
Allison Squires single-molecule microscopy; light-harvesting nanoparticles
Melody Swartz immunobiology of stromal cells; in vitro tumor models of cancer
Tian Zhong electronic nuclear spin coupling; spin coherence in rare-earth ions

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

To apply for the REU program in molecular engineering, complete the online application. The application deadline is February 15, 2022, and successful candidates will be contacted in mid-March. 

Contact

If you have questions, contact Laura Rico-Beck at lricobeck@uchicago.edu.