REU Round-Up, part 1: The Blitz

Hey all! So we all want to get in to grad school, right?  Well, if you want to go get a chemistry PhD, common knowledge is that you should try to do some undergraduate research.  If you go to an institution where it is hard to do research for whatever reason, never fear!  There are these great programs out there called Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or REUs.  Most large research universities have them, and they normally last for 9-10 weeks out of the summer.  I personally have never done an official REU, but I have performed research over the summer at my own school, and it was a great experience.  Getting the chance to spend a summer doing something completely different and out of your comfort zone (I was a chemist doing molecular biology--) is a great way to learn about not only the research "process" but also a new branch of science.  I’m also told that it prepares you very well for the graduate research experience. Lets take a look at how to get involved: First, how do you find these REUs?  Luckily the National Science Foundation has a great list of the summer programs it funds.  I'll include here just links to the Chemistry REUsand Biological Sciences REUs.  You can look for ones that fit your geographic location or interests.  Usually a program will have a large list of professors you can work with, and includes programs for everything from physical chemistry to chemical biology.  Unfortunately, most of these deadlines are coming up pretty soon, so it's time to start working if you haven't already.  Here's what you should do.
  1. Find profressor(s) you think would write you a great recommendation.  These professors should be ones that you have had a great experience with in either class or lab – people that can talk about you in a scientific perspective.   Find them in their offices today.  If they're not there, shoot them an e-mail as soon as possible!  Recommendations take time and professors are busy people.  Also remember to be courteous and say please and thank you, like your mother taught you.
  2. Write your resume.  Don't be like me and write it last.  It will help you with the rest of your essays.  Importantly, your professor writing your recommendation will want to see your resume as soon as possible, so be sure to at least write a rough draft and send it along as soon as you can.
  3. Check back with your professors.  Make sure they haven't forgotten about you.
  4. Write your essays.  Finish them before the deadline so you can have a friend edit them. Your university may  have an writing service that can help you proofread.
  5. Again, make sure your professors haven't forsaken you.  They're nice people, but very busy.
  6. Submit!
So, it's as easy as that!  Next week, I'll take a look at the REU experience and how it prepares you for graduate school!

Author: Sidechain Bob

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