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NSF Research Experience for Undergrads (REU)

Mentored summer research program for undergraduates

Synthetic Biology Research Experience for Undergraduates (SynBREU)

We are looking for eight highly motivated students with an interest in research at the interface of engineering, biology, mathematics, and chemistry to participate in the 2021 summer research program for undergraduates.
Download the program flyer.

About This Program

This is a ten-week program of mentored, research-intensive activities in the field of synthetic biology including:

Program Duration

The program will take place from June 21 – August 29, 2021

Participants must be available for 9 of the 10 weeks of the program starting June 21


The deadline for the receipt of applications has been extended to January 31, 2021

The deadline for the receipt of recommendation letters has been extended to February 5, 2021


This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Undergraduate participants will receive housing, paid travel expenses, a dinner meal plan plus some lunches, and a $5,750 stipend. 


How to Apply

Complete and submit the required online application. In the application, you will be asked to upload the following documents as PDFs:

Start the online application


Q: When will applications open?
A: The application site becomes available in December for each following summer.

Q: Do I need to register on the NSF website and get an REU ID? Do I need to fill out the NSF common application?
A: No – this is a change from last year. You do not need an REU ID or to fill out the common application. You only need to submit our application and supplemental materials.
Q: My major is ____, will I be considered for this if I apply?
A: Yes! We ask about your field of study only to ensure that each cohort includes a diverse set of backgrounds, and no application will be declined simply because of major.
Q: I don't have previous research experience. Should I wait to apply until my resume is stronger?
A: No! Apply every year that you are eligible, if it is in line with your interests. We consider candidates with and without research experience and at least half of our cohort will not have research opportunities at their home institution. This does not count against you, and conversely, those with experience are not favored or biased against either. We are looking for diverse backgrounds and training for each summer cohort. 
Q: If I am only able to participate for 8 weeks, could I still attend?
A: Unfortunately, no, you must be available to work on projects full-time for at least 9 weeks of Summer 2021, starting June 21st.

Q: Will this be a remote, hybrid, or on-campus opportunity?
A: We are currently working to make this an on-campus opportunity but recognize that with the changing circumstances this may become either hybrid (on-campus for some and remote for others) or fully remote. We will update the website with the latest information as we have it. If you have extenuating circumstances that would permit only your remote participation, please still apply but note this in your application.  

Contact Us

Please contact us with any question about the program at

Program Leadership

Program Director

Danielle Tullman-ErcekDanielle Tullman-Ercek

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Email Danielle Tullman-Ercek

Phone: 847-491-7043 


Program Co-Director:

Michael JewettMichael Jewett

Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence 
Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering
Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Director, Center for Synthetic Biology

Email Michael Jewett

                                            Phone: 847-467-5007

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