NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)
CHEMICAL ENGINEERING AND MATERIALS SCIENCE RESEARCH IN INTERFACING SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AND MATERIALS
The Interfacing Sustainable Energy and Materials program at the University of Delaware (UD) is an integrated team of investigators and projects that fosters undergraduate interest, education, and research skills in a stimulating multi-disciplinary scientific and engineering environment. This REU theme allows students to have a meaningful and positive impact on society through the development of sustainable energy technologies. Additionally, we have secured commitments to visit the global R&D centers of major energy and materials companies to augment laboratory research activities with examples of the translation of science and engineering advances to commercial practice. The REU program includes personal research mentoring, a series of skill-building workshops on best research practices and research ethics, information on the graduate school experience and application process, and opportunities to build research reporting and communication skills through activities.
Among the engineering challenges the U.S. faces in the 21st century, energy independence and environmental sustainability require innovative solutions that draw simultaneously from the interface between materials synthesis, characterization, and applications in processes ranging from harvesting solar energy to efficient biomass conversion. Twelve faculty members from the Departments of Materials Science & Engineering and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, together with their graduate students, closely mentor the participants in advanced and high-impact research topics at the sustainable materials-energy interface.
This REU site aims to enhance U.S. competitiveness through the development of a diverse and engaged workforce by enabling students to (1) acquire a practical and engaging research experience; (2) develop their interest in pursuing a graduate degree education; (3) understand the graduate school experience and admissions process; (4) develop long-term professional and social connections with fellow participants, graduate students, and faculty. In the long-term, the program seeks to increase student numbers pursuing and completing a graduate education. The scientific impact of this program will be disseminated by research presentations and publications with student co-authors. Finally, this REU site will provide valuable data for ongoing research at the Delaware Education Research and Development Center that will aid assessment and innovation of REU programs nation-wide.
Chose projects from over 13 faculty research groups and work as an independent research student alongside Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers in the University of Delaware’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Materials Science, and Biomedical Engineering departments. Core research themes of the REU include solar energy, biomass conversion, thermoelectrics, fuel cells, and bio-inspired materials.
“Blood Rheology: Measurements and Connection to Physiology”
(Norm Wagner / Antony Beris)
“Polymer hydroxide exchange membrane casting and characterization”
“Hydroxide exchange membrane electrolyzers for water splitting”
“Dynamics and mechanisms of surface mediated peptide and protein aggregation”
(Chris Roberts / Kristi Kiick / Eric Furst)
“Selective Dehydration of Lactic Acid for Renewable Acrylic Acid Product on Cation Modified Zeolites”
“Semiconductor photon upconversion nanoparticles for renewable energy harvesting and drug delivery”
“Phononic metamaterials assembled from colloidal building blocks”
“Characterization of electronic and photonic nanomaterials”
“Peptide Synthesis and Assembly”
“Synthetic Nucleic Acid Synthesis and Characterization”
“Molecular simulation studies to understand effects of polymer architecture on structure and thermodynamics in polymer solutions”
Brown bag lunches and student partners
We organize weekly brown bag lunches to develop student/faculty interaction beyond the daily research interactions and to foster student/student communication. These lunches give students a chance to informally discuss their research progress and problems. The goal of these lunch meetings is for the students to share their own personal experiences and to learn from each other’s successes and failures. Senior chemical engineering undergraduates, the IGERT students, NSF-REU and summer scholars students in undergraduate research programs are invited to attend these lunches and to provide their unique perspective on research and the very different types of challenges presented by a research project.
Presentation and communications skills workshop
In addition to research skills and outstanding research experiences encouraging the pursuit of advanced engineering training, we feel that is important to understand how to present the results of student projects in a coherent and efficient manner. Thus, we host a workshop at the beginning of each summer to advise students of the “do’s and don’ts” in the delivery of scientific presentations.
Students have ample opportunities for professional, academic and career development in relevant areas as they prepare for graduation from college via workshops:
- Introduction to Research: The workshop features Ignorance: How it Drives Science, by Firestein, and includes best research practices and tools for literature searches, such as using online resources (e.g. the Science Citation Index).
- Research Ethics: The integrity of academic science and engineering is addressed by Professor Tom Powers, Director of the Science, Ethics and Public Policy Program, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at UD, as well as a Research Faculty Fellow at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, whose work focuses on understanding the appropriate content and pedagogy for ethics training. A second aspect of the workshop addresses the ethics of technologies, such as the remediation of environmental harm and climate change and the prospects of irrevocable harm.
- Professional Development Graduate School Prep Boot Camp: Near the end of the 10 week program, students review the graduate school application process, common application materials, themes to consider when writing a statement of purpose, GPA and GRE requirements and application deadlines of many graduate programs. Additionally, the workshop covers the importance of reference letters, opportunities to develop professional relationships as an undergraduate, and fellowship opportunities.
In addition to personal lunch sessions and workshops, students have the chance to hear world-class national and international scientists and engineers as part of the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology (CCST) and the Center for Molecular and Engineering Thermodynamics (CMET) summer seminar series.
The University of Delaware is located in the heart of the chemical industry. Our Department has strong links to the local and regional industry, and many of the NSF-REU students will be working on research projects which have direct industrial support or specific industrial collaboration. The program covers several facets of energy related research. We plan three site visits during the summer to industries with sponsorship from Dow (Collegeville, PA), DuPont (Experimental Station, Wilmington, DE), Exxon-Mobil (Clinton, NJ), Air-Liquide, Gore global R&D facilities, Air Products, or NIST.
Student Living and Social Activities
Students are housed in University of Delaware student dormitories. The dorms are within walking distance of the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Departments. REU students live in the same dorms as students in the UD Summer Scholars research program encouraging group activities such as informal picnics, discussion groups, personal mentoring and weekend trips to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and the Delaware beaches. Furthermore, students are in close proximity to outdoor recreational opportunities at White Clay Creek State Park, including disc golf, biking, running and hiking trails.
Nineteen of our faculty members are offering independent research projects in the areas of catalysis, molecular engineering, soft materials and biomolecular engineering:
Antony N. Beris
Thomas H. Epps, III
Eric M. Furst
April M. Kloxin
Christopher J. Kloxin
Raul F. Lobo
Michael E. Mackay
Dionisios G. Vlachos
Joshua M.O. Zide
Q: What are the dates of the Summer Program?
A: It is a 10-week program, full-time from June 3-August 10, 2018. (“Move in” is Sunday, June 3rd from Noon-5 p.m. and “Move out” is Friday, August 10th before 7 p.m.).
Q: My school is on the quarter system, and I won’t be finished with my final exams until after your REU program starts, or must return to school before it ends. Is it still possible for me to participate?
A: In some cases the answer is yes. We prefer all the students to start and end at the same time, but please clearly note on your application if you are requesting an exception.
Q: How much is the stipend?
A: The stipend for 2018 will be $5,000.00 given incrementally throughout the 10 weeks. It may be used for food and recreation. We will provide your housing, free of charge.
Q: Is housing provided?
A: Housing will be coordinated and provided for REU participants in on-campus dormitories: http://www.facilities.udel.edu/rhalls.aspx
Q: What about food?
A: REU participants are responsible for their own meals. There are university summer meal plan options as well as local grocery stores and restaurants. (Most dorms have student accessible kitchen facilities for cooking.)
Q: Are travel expenses provided?
A: Round-trip travel expenses to and from the summer program will be reimbursed up to $500.00 (coach tickets only, no first-class, etc.) per participant. Original receipts must be provided.
Q: What will I be doing during the 10 weeks?
A. You will be working on your research project with your faculty and graduate student mentor, attending Brown Bag REU seminar lunches, taking field trips to local industry and attending special events/symposia.
Q: Will I interact with other undergraduate students?
A: Yes, there will be interaction with summer science research students in other programs formally and informally, such as within your faculty mentor’s research group, on field trips and special events/symposia.
Q: When is the application deadline?
A: All completed applications must be received by February 1, 2018.
Q: What are the application requirements?
A: Prospective REU participants must complete the NSF-REU application online at our website and upload a copy of your college transcript detailing coursework and credits, a resume, a one-page statement of purpose, and a letter of recommendation. No prior research experience is required. Students must be entering their sophomore, junior or senior years of college.
Note: We especially encourage applications from underrepresented minorities, women, and students from small colleges or students with no prior research experience!
Q: When do I find out if I am accepted?
A: Applicants should receive notice by March 15, 2018.
Q: Can I specify what projects I am interested in?
A: Yes, you will select a first choice, second choice, and third choice before you submit your form.
Q: When do I find out what projects I will be working on?
A: REU students, faculty and projects are closely matched after participants have been accepted. The REU participant will be notified of this match as soon as possible. Each student’s major, research preference and experience are taken into careful consideration regarding project match.
Q: Are there any conditions or restrictions in applying or being accepted into the program?
A: Yes, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be an undergraduate student attending a two-year or four-year accredited college, having completed at least your freshman year before participating in our program (you may be a freshman when you apply).
- You must be from a non-host institution (the NSF Grant will not fund present University of Delaware undergraduate students).
- If you participated in an NNUN or NNIN Program in the past, you cannot participate again.
- You must be a U.S.A. Citizen or Permanent Resident of the United States.
Note: if you are a citizen of another country AND a Permanent Resident of the U.S.A., you must submit a copy of your Green Card (both sides).
You must be 18 years of age or older by May 31st.
You must have a valid health insurance coverage for the summer.
You must not already have a four-year degree of any kind or be graduating before the end of the program in August.
You must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better.
PLEASE NOTE: When you accept an NSF-REU offer, you may be required to submit an official transcript to us, before your official award letter can be sent to you. The sooner we can confirm your transcript, the sooner your award will be secured!
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
The undergraduate and graduate programs of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) are consistently ranked among the top ten in the nation. The Department currently has 29 full-time faculty on campus and many part-time faculty, including adjunct faculty from DuPont, Gore and other local companies. Our research program is vigorous and currently hosts approximately 150 graduate students in the Ph.D. program and 30 postdoctoral researchers and fellows. The Department is housed in the Allan P. Colburn Laboratory on the main campus, home to our two major research centers: the Center for Molecular and Engineering Thermodynamics (CMET) and the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology (CCST), along with the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and the Delaware Technology Park. The Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (ISE) building is home to the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI).
Material Science and Engineering
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is located in DuPont Hall. Faculty research in MSE includes polymers and composites, biomolecular and biomedical materials, nanostructured materials, tissue engineering and drug delivery, and materials for energy generation and storage. Several NSF-REU faculty share dual appointments in CBE and MSE.
Laboratory Equipment and Other Resources
The University of Delaware faculty maintain state-of-the-art equipment and labs for a wide range of synthesis and characterization programs. Special on-campus strengths are in peptide synthesis, polymer synthesis, rheology, microscopy and scattering. These resources are frequently shared between research groups. Many of the NSF-REU site faculty work closely with staff at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and some REU students are expected to have the opportunity to perform neutron scattering experiments. The University of Delaware facilities include office space to provide NSF-REU students with their own desk for the summer in their research group offices. Computing facilities in each group typically include at least one desktop or laptop computer per student and are more than sufficient to provide resources for data processing, analysis and reporting. In addition, NSF-REU students will have access to ISE Lab which includes nanofabrication clean rooms, advanced materials characterization labs, imaging and aberration corrected electron microscopy facilities, and a synthesis suite.