Opening minds to possibilities through NSF REU
A number of students and faculty mentors are working this summer at Oklahoma State University as part of the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Students from across the country have traveled to the OSU Stillwater and Tulsa campuses to work in labs and in the field to learn research basics with the goal of encouraging them to consider research careers.
“I always like working with undergraduates and I want to motivate them to do a summer internship like this instead of doing other things,” said Dr. Eric Chan-Tin, faculty lead for one of two Computer Science sites at OSU. “Staying home and working retail jobs doesn’t really help their career.”
Each individual REU project is funded by NSF grants applied for by faculty principal investigators who work with fellow professors to create the research experiences for students. Faculty participation is demanding but they will tell you it is an investment in the future of students and research careers.
OSU REU research topics and principal investigators:
Sustainable Biobased Products and Energy Development – Gopal Kakani
Interdisciplinary Chemistry – Jeff White
Information Centric Engineering – J. Cecil
Materials Science and Engineering – Ranji Vaidyanathan
Stream Restoration Projects – Shannon Brewer
Big Data Analytics – Eric Chan-Tin
REU programs are very competitive for student applicants. OSU sites typically receive anywhere from 30 to 70 applications for 10 or fewer slots. Although some REU students don’t continue on to graduate school programs, many are inspired by their research experiences to pursue careers they had never considered before.
A former English major at Langston University, Texas native Christian Fields had decided to switch to computer science before the REU internship. Her REU research experience solidified her decision. She now wants to create apps and plans to go to graduate school.
“I have not done research before this but Dr. Chan-Tin has been guiding us,” said Fields. “Sometimes it’s a tedious process but it’s rewarding, especially when you get it to work. It’s fun when you solve a piece of code.”
For more information about REU, visit https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5517