NSF REU Summer Research Program in Chemical Assembly at UNL

NSF Award Number CHEM 2147939

Use this link to find the application form.

The UNL Chemistry Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program is funded by the Chemistry Division of the National Science Foundation. It supports 10 students in a ten-week summer research program in the UNL Chemistry Department each year. To create a welcoming and inclusive environment, each participant is assigned a graduate student mentor who works with them on an almost daily basis to learn about the methods and literature.

The overall goals of this training program are two-fold: (1) teach and nurture interest in science by engaging undergraduate students in analyzing and solving complex problems, and (2) significantly influence the career decisions of students in the program.

Each REU student is paired with a graduate mentor, who gains experience in teaching others to do research. During one week, Upward Bound Math Science (UBMS) high school students learn to summarize REU students’ projects and give oral presentations attended by the REU students. This gives the REU students an opportunity to described their research project to someone who has not had as much coursework training and it increases the UBMS students’ familiarity with scientific research.

Goal 1 is achieved by students undertaking research in the area of chemical assembly, which covers a range of projects extending from the controlled assembly of colloids onto surfaces, to the synthesis of assembled nanoscale catalysts, and to the directed modification of biomolecules. Students are involved in innovations in the areas of information technology, chemical education research, targeted medicines, energy storage, and others. Chemical assembly is also strongly aligned with environment-friendly technologies because fewer atoms are wasted during the manufacturing process.

Goal 2 is achieved by a variety of activities, which take place on Monday mornings. To raise awareness about career opportunities, students tour three of Lincoln’s largest companies, such as Celerion, GeneSeek, GlaxoSmithKline, LI-COR, and Teledyne ISCO. To learn how to communicate to scientists, students create a poster to present at a National or Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society and discuss scientific authorship. To learn how to communicate science to the public, students prepare a presentation of their research that is guided by constructivist learning theory and that they then give to the UBMS high school students. Other learning opportunities include chemical safety, scientific ethics, instrumentation tours and workshops, and graduate school preparation tips.