Salary, ‘hands-on’ work perks of science program

Ariel Lev

After spending two semesters in class every day, the last thing most students want to do is spend their summers in the classroom. But this summer may be a little different for university science students interested in dynamic fields like fuel-cell and biomolecular research.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates program allows students to travel to other universities and work with professionals on actual research projects.

“The program is a great way for students to get actual hands-on experience,” said Laura Leff, assistant chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.

The REU program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, has sites at universities across the country. Students are encouraged to participate in programs at other universities but can apply to their own schools if they are unable or unwilling to travel. Topics studied range from structure study of biomaterials to the analysis of liquid crystal biosensors.

The application deadline for the Summer 2007 program is March 8. Interested students must fill out an online application and provide their grades and two letters of recommendation. Kent State students applying to the Kent State REU program must meet a few additional requirements which are available at

Most REU programs let students spend 10 weeks working with doctors in their field doing research and experiments. Universities provide travel assistance, lodging and a salary ranging from $3,000 to $5,000. Students who would like to participate in Kent State’s REU program are housed in Centennial Court residence halls and receive a $3500 salary.

“Students perform research and attend weekly seminars and clean-room training,” said James Maxwell, public relations coordinator for the Liquid Crystal Institute. “The students then give a research presentation at the end of the summer.”

Maxwell explained “clean-room training” as the practice of using sterile rooms to work with liquid crystals without contaminating them.

The presentation allows students to demonstrate what they have learned from the work they did. It also lets students “take part in publishing their work and introducing it to the science community,” Maxwell said.

“Last year the physics department did major reforms to the undergraduate program,” said Mark Manley, professor and undergraduate coordinator.

Starting in Fall 2007, incoming physics students will be required to complete a universal research requirement. All students will have to participate in a research program, and REU programs allow students to fulfill this requirement while earning credit and money.

Students interested in participating in an REU program can find information on the bulletin board across from Room 123 in Smith Hall. Information on REU programs around the country can be found on the NSF-REU Web site at this address

Students in all fields of study are encouraged to participate in the program.

“It is a great opportunity for students to go to a unique environment and do something hands-on,” Leff said.

Contact sciences reporter Ariel Lev at [email protected].