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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 31, 2022 – August 5, 2022 (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 some meals.


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, and 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?  If you have computer skills (for example, knowledge of programming languages), please be sure to include this in your resume and describe in your statement. Advice on preparing personal statements can be found here.
  • Resume
  • 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

APPLICATION:  The Summer 2022 application has closed.


If you are interested in being contacted when the Summer 2023 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.

Offers will be made on a rolling basis until the application deadline or until all positions are filled. 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 at Urbana-Champaign. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign students who are interested in attending an REU program are encouraged to 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- you can 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.

David Cahill (Materials Science and Engineering): thermal energy conversion and control; nanoscale thermal transport; ultrafast transport of heat and spin

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

Matthew Gilbert (Electrical and Computer Engineering): quantum transport theory; nanoelectronics and low dimensional systems; strongly correlated systems; topological phenomena

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

Pinshane Huang (Materials Science and Engineering): transmission electron microscopy and spectroscopy; atomic-scale chemical analysis; 2D materials and interfaces

Virginia Lorenz (Physics): experiments on metallic antiferromagnets and their excitations, including sample preparation, magneto-optics experiments, and electrical measurements

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

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

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.