Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

The Summer 2020 REU cycle will begin accepting applications on October 1, 2019. 

In 1989, the National Science Foundation established a Center at Virginia Tech to conduct research and provide education focused on advanced materials having polymeric constituents. Both adhesives and composites were included in the charter for investigation and instruction. A highly successful and competitive by-product of the Center featured visiting undergraduates’ research. We are currently accepting applications from qualified undergraduates who are searching for an exciting laboratory experience.

Materials Innovation at the Intersection of Food-Energy-Water Systems

Future scientific leaders must effectively communicate across disciplinary boundaries relating to food, energy, and water, with a “molecules to manufacturing” perspective for recognizing commonly shared and unique challenges, discoveries, and solutions. Our primary objective is to nurture students to pursue graduate studies and academic and industrial careers in FEWS fields, establishing the pool of educated and energetic talent to fuel the competitiveness of our nation. REU MII-FEWS research will provide enabling polymeric materials for food distribution, water efficient crop production, real-time monitoring devices, advanced manufacturing concepts to print the next generation of membranes for water purification, and novel synthetic methods to understand predictable transport and diffusion through materials.  Working in teams, effective communication across the population, and igniting passion for discovery remain cornerstones. REU publications will serve as a key indicator for our success.  The REU students will emerge as scientific leaders in a critical area for our nation; the students will initiate an interdisciplinary network of scientists with a spirit of entrepreneurship and a passion for societal impact.  Students will understand the social complexities of translating technologies to international communities.

The program is designed to instill in students a life-long motivation to create new materials and discover physical phenomena through the joys of research. Focus will be on science and engineering with added emphasis on building leadership, interdisciplinary teamwork and communications skills, and experiencing the gratification derived from integrating their science into the community. Particular focus will be on technical writing. The program includes a leadership workshop for the graduate student mentors, a community-building retreat with an ethics workshop, a short course on polymer science and engineering fundamentals and their potential at the food-energy-water nexus, and communications seminars covering topics such as developing a resume and applying to graduate school. The summer culminates with a symposium and technical paper. We commit to at least 50% of our REUs being women or minorities to ensure that they learn to work with a diverse group to prepare them for professional careers. The students will have opportunities to present their findings at a conference during the follow-up year.