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About the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program

The Illinois MRSEC is excited to offer an NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Our ten week summer research program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to work closely with MRSEC faculty mentors on solving a challenging, meaningful scientific question through taking part in the interdisciplinary Illinois MRSEC research. The program also provides training to help students in their professional development as scientists and engineers, with particular emphasis on those skills related to communicating their scientific discoveries to help broaden its reach and make science more accessible.

Information on the program and how to apply can be found below. If you'd like to first learn a bit more about the type of research faculty mentors in this program are doing, you can watch recordings of some of the faculty seminars presented to REU students in summer 2020 here.

Photo collage of MRSEC REU participants.


  • Program dates: May 30, 2023 – August 4, 2023 (10 weeks)
  • Location: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
  • Compensation: Students receive a $5000 stipend for the summer. Additionally, students receive free housing, travel to the REU site, and other benefits.


To apply to the Illinois MRSEC REU, you will need to prepare the following materials:

  • Statement of interest: A one page document that addresses the following: What sparked your interest in materials research, and what have you done to pursue that passion? What are your research interests? Do you have any preference toward experimental or computational projects? What are your academic and professional goals, and how would participating in the Illinois MRSEC REU program help you achieve those goals?  Advice on preparing personal statements can be found here.
  • Resume  Advice on preparing a resume can be found here.
  • Two reference letters: At least one should be a faculty member in a scientific field. References are submitted electronically:  Within the application, you'll enter contact info (name and e-mail) for your references. After each is entered, an e-mail will be generated that asks them for the letter on your behalf, with a link to where they should submit the letter. Advice on getting strong reference letters can be found here.
  • Unofficial transcript



If you are interested in being contacted when the Summer 2024 application opens, please contact Dr. Pamela Pena Martin ( ) and request to be notified.

The website has resources with helpful information on preparing applications to summer research programs.

Awardees will be notified by e-mail of their acceptance into the program and will be given a specific time window to accept or decline the offer.



  • Applicants must be currently enrolled in a 2- or 4-year undergraduate program studying engineering, physics, chemistry, materials science, or a related field
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Applicants must have completed their sophomore (second) year by the start of the program
  • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older
  • Applicants cannot be currently enrolled at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. UIUC students interested in attending an REU program can explore REU options at the national site or There are also MRSEC REU programs at many other Universities, which also offer opportunities for interdisciplinary materials research- find out more at the MRSEC program website



The following is a list of faculty members who will be acting as REU research mentors this summer. Students taking part in the REU will be matched with a research mentor based on their research interests.

Mikael Backlund (Chemistry): optical microscopy, quantum sensing, magnetic resonance, single-molecule and super-resolution microscopy, metrology, biophysics, condensed matter

Paul Braun (Materials Science and Engineering): energy storage; photonics; materials chemistry; thermal science

Elif Ertekin (Mechanical Science and Engineering): computational modeling and simulation; deformable interfaces; structure-property relationships; electronic and optical properties of 2D materials; nanomanufacturing and 2D materials synthesis

Axel Hoffmann (Materials Science and Engineering): spin transport, magnetization dynamics, magnetic heterostructure synthesis and characterization

Nadya Mason (Physics): experimental quantum transport; mesoscopic behavior; 1D and 2D materials; superconductivity; correlated electrons; hybrid devices

Nenad Miljkovic (Mechanical Science and Engineering): energy transport; nanoengineered surfaces; interfacial phenomena; energy harvesting and thermal management

Catherine Murphy (Chemistry): synthesis, surface chemistry, optical properties, biological applications and environmental implications of colloidal metal nanoparticles; reconfigurable 2D surfaces

Nicola Perry (Materials Science and Engineering): Functional ceramics: Oxides, halides; solid state ionics for energy conversion and storage; point defect-mediated properties: ionic/electronic transport, chemical expansion, catalytic activity; thin film growth by pulsed laser deposition; electro-chemo-mechanical coupling

Shaloo Rakheja (Electrical and Computer Engineering): modeling of nanoelectronic and magnetic devices for energy-efficient computing and communication; semiconductor electronic devices; spintronics

Andre Schleife (Materials Science and Engineering): parameter-free computer simulations of excited electronic states and optical properties; interaction of light with magnetic ordering in materials

Daniel Shoemaker (Materials Science and Engineering): materials discovery and synthesis; crystal growth; magnetic and semiconducting properties; low-temperature transport; in-situ diffraction

Nancy Sottos (Materials Science and Engineering): circular life cycle for plastics and composites; additive manufacturing; recycling and upcycling of plastics

Arend van der Zande (Mechanical Science and Engineering): 2D materials; electronic, photonic, and mechanical devices



Watch the outreach videos created by summer 2020 REU students!


The Illinois MRSEC participated in a joint virtual seminar series for undergraduates to learn about research and career paths. Visit this site to access these presentations, including two from the Illinois MRSEC


The REU summer site program of the Illinois MRSEC at the University of Illinois is supported by the National Science Foundation, grant DMR-1720633. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.