The 2013 Illinois REU Program

Kevin Pitts

Our 2012 REU students.
Our 2012 REU students.

I’ve blogged recently about undergraduate research (here and here).   In addition to the many opportunities we offer at Illinois for our own students, we also host an REU program that brings in students from other colleges and universities for the summer.  

We are now accepting applications for our 2013 program. Last summer, we had 14 students from colleges and universities across the country.   These REU programs are good all over the country, but let me tell you why I think our program is great.

First of all, we have a program coordinator, Toni Pitts, who does a tremendous job organizing the program and helps each student out individually. Over the years, Toni has taken students to the grocery store, hospital (bicycle accident), airport and train station. She’s something of a “den mother” for the students, and they really appreciate having someone that they can go to with any problem, big or small. The students also appreciate having someone to confide in, and it makes their entire experience that much better. Toni gets Christmas cards from former students and their parents!

Secondly, the research advisors are committed to undergraduate research, and put a great deal of thought and effort into providing a rewarding, beneficial experience for the students. Virtually all of our REU advisors also have Illinois undergraduates in their lab. This means that the REU students get to interact with UIUC students and aren’t in a lab by themselves.

Thirdly, we strike a really good balance between research and other activities. The students are on campus for a 10 week research experience, and that’s the highest priority. But they are also on campus to gain exposure to lots of areas of physics, learn about careers and to get experience writing papers and making presentations. So we have weekly research talks, and several special seminars on science ethics, giving a good presentation, how to write a paper and how to apply to graduate school.   In our REU boot camp at the beginning of the summer, we talk about how to do research, how to document research, collaboration, lab safety, along with topics like careers in physics and graduate school.

We also specialize in fun activities, ranging from a tour of Fermilab to cookouts, canoe trips, trips to Chicago and St. Louis, ice cream socials and afternoon cookie breaks. 

Finally, we meet with the students one on one throughout the summer to make sure that their experience is everything they want it to be. Are they getting good guidance in the lab? Are they finding everything they need on campus?   Is there anything we can do to help?

Put together, I think we have one of the very best programs in the country.   We’re really excited about the 2013 version. Apply now!

P.S. All undergraduates are welcome to apply for this program except Illinois students. Illinois students are welcome to apply for any REU program in the country except ours.