The Emerging and Established Model Systems REU program is designed to support students in their pursuit of a career in science.  Admission will be offered to qualified students who can demonstrate that the program will substantially benefit their education.  Minimum requirements for admission are:

  • USA citizenship or permanent residence status.
  • A 2.5 GPA.
  • Completion of at least one term of college-level coursework, completed before enrolling in the program.
  • Continued college-level enrollment after the program. Students who graduate before the start of the program are ineligible.
  • Majoring in a biology related discipline, mathematics or computer science.
  • Previous research experience is not required.


Selection of students will be determined by

  • Genuine interest in at least one of the potential research projects, and our ability to accomodate the student's selection of mentor
  • Motivation and enthusiasm to develop research skills and techniques
  • Successful completion of college-level courses relevant to research.  For biology majors this will be basic biology and chemistry courses appropriate for the level completed (first year, sophomore, junior). For mathematics majors,  this will be mathematics and science courses appropriate to level completed and a desire to apply mathematics skills to biological problems.  Biology courses are not required for mathematics students.
  • An academic record with consistent progress
  • An ability to write clearly
  • An ability to participate for the duration of the program, May 20–July 26, 2019


Review of completed applications will begin February 28, 2019 and will continue until all spaces are filled.


  1. The relationship between the mentor and the student is essential for success of the program and student, so choice of mentor and project are important.  Review the projects listed on the project page.  Choose three projects that interest you, and be prepared to explain how your choices will aid your scientific development.  You can learn more about projects from the background papers provided, and you can learn more about the mentors through the mentor page.  Check carefully for prerequisites, because not all projects are suitable for all students.
  2. Write your essay. Please see the additional instructions below.  You will be asked to upload a pdf copy of your essay into our application portal.
  3. Ask a professor who knows you well to write a letter of recommendation. Tell him/her about the program, show them your essay and request that he/she send a letter to by February 28.  Letters written on school letterhead and attached as a pdf to the email are preferred, but the text of the letter within an email is also acceptable.  Choose someone who knows you well enough to comment on your work ethic and the benefit you may receive from the experience. The letter writer must be a faculty member; letters from graduate teaching assistants will not be accepted.  You will be asked to provide the name and email address of your letter writer in our application portal.
  4. Obtain a copy of your transcripts.  Unofficial transcripts are sufficient; pdf files are preferred.  Please include your name as part of the file name (for example:  Smith.transcript.pdf).    Your transcripts will be uploaded into the application portal.
  5. Obtain an REU ID from the National Science Foundation.  Your REU ID will be entered into our application.  Instructions for obtaining an REU ID are included in our application.
  6. Fill in our application form.  Click on the APPLY button below.  Before you start, carefully read over the instructions so that you can prepare all necessary documents and information for uploading.  You will not be able to go back and change your answers after you submit the form.  Attach your essay and your transcripts when instructed to do so.

Complete all of the above by February 28.  Review will start on February 28; late applications, although accepted, may not receive full consideration.

Personal Essay

The essay is the most important part of the application.  Your ability to convey your thoughts coherently is very important.  Have someone critique your essay before you submit it. Although we do not have a word limit, try to be concise.  You should aim for one to two paragraphs for parts 1 and 2, and aim for one paragraph about each research project you choose for part 3.   We are looking for students who can describe how the program will benefit their career, and who can choose a project that is most suitable to their career goals.  In addition to the instructions below, the attached document has examples and explanations regarding our essay questions.

The essay has three parts that should be treated separately; label each of the three parts with the number and header below:

  1.  Why I want to participate in research this summer.
    In this section, explain why you are interested in doing research this summer
    For example, you could answer some of these questions:
    • Do you have a passion for science?
    • Do you wish to experience research to determine if it is a possible career for you?
    • Do you want to try a different field of research than you have experienced before to see how it fits with you?
    • Why is now the time for you to do research?
    • What are your career goals, and how will the program help you attain them?
  2.  What I can contribute to the program.
    Diversity in all dimensions is necessary to make scientific progress. What can you bring to this program that might be different from other students?
    For example, some questions you might address are:
    • This is a biology program; if you are math or computer science student, what could you contribute?
    • If you are a biology major, what could you bring to the program that’s different from what a math/computer student might bring?
    • Have you had life experiences that might influence your participation?
    • Does the type of institution you attend makes you different from many REU students?
    • What makes you unique or unusual in science?
  3.  Why I want to work on the projects I have chosen.
    Pick three projects and rank them by your preference (1 = most preferred).  Please address the following questions for each project selected:
    • What is your intellectual reason for choosing this project? For this question, the background paper and the webpage of the mentor may help.  (A passion for an organism since childhood, although helpful, is not sufficient grounds for selecting a particular project).
    • How will this project benefit your development as a scientist?



Follow us on Twitter @KUEEBREU for program announcements.


Emerging & Established Model Systems REU
Follow Us on Twitter
KU Today