NSF Renews Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program

Renewal Effective March 9, 2018

PER the NSF website:   The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will host a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)-site in experimental and computational materials research. This REU-site project plans to recruit students from underrepresented groups and academic institutions where research opportunities are limited. This project offers a broad range of interdisciplinary materials research experiences to undergraduate students with a diversity of backgrounds in physics, chemistry, applied mathematics, and engineering. The undergraduate students will gain experience in materials synthesis, materials characterization and computer modeling and simulations during their ten-week research stay at UAB campus. The scientific research projects have been specifically developed for undergraduate students by an interdisciplinary team consisting of science and engineering faculty at UAB. This project will continue to provide lecture series and workshops in materials growth and characterization, research ethics, and professionalism, innovation and entrepreneurship, and preparation for graduate school to all participants. Our REU participants will publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals and/or present at professional meetings leading to a broad dissemination of new knowledge created in the undergraduate research projects.


REU research projects are organized in four research clusters: (1) materials under extreme conditions (2) materials for energy applications, (3) materials for sensors and laser applications, and (4) biomaterials for implants, tissue engineering, and drug delivery applications. The undergraduate research projects contribute to fundamental understanding of phase transformations and degradation of materials under extreme conditions, novel materials for fuel cells, materials for nanoscale sensors and mid-IR lasers, and 3-D printed biomaterials and stimuli-responsive polymers. Some research projects will also involve the use of national x-ray synchrotron facilities and neutron diffraction facilities in materials research. The undergraduate student projects have short-term achievable milestones, while simultaneously contributing to longer-term scientific goals and technological applications. Our teaming arrangement of REU participants with faculty and graduate students, giving poster and oral presentations, writing a research-style paper, and attending training seminars in scientific communications and ethics will help REU students see the “big picture” of what it takes to develop into a “research scientist” with the critical skills needed for analyzing, interpreting and presenting scientific data.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.