Congratulations to Our 2020-21 NASA REU Participants

2020-21 NASA REU – Hybrid Model

In spite of not being able to have a Summer 2020 REU due to COVID-19, NASA REU is moving forward for 2020-21 with REU for a 10 week period beginning October 1, 2020.The following UAB students have been selected to participate in this fascinating hybrid REU model.  We want to recognize and congratulate them.

Rachel Day is a UAB Junior
Major: Physics
Mentor: Dr. Andrei Stanishevsky, Physics

Hannah Blansett is a Junior at UAB
Major: Materials Science & Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Vinoy Thomas, Material Sciences and Engineering

Brita is a UAB Senior
Major: Physics
Mentor: Dr. Cheng-Chien, Physics
Ishmael James
Ishmael is a Senior at UAB
Major: Physics
Mentor: Dr. Ryoichi Kawai, Physics

NASA Fall 2020 Research Experiences for Undergraduates

NASA – Alabama Space Grant Consortium

Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) Program

Hybrid and Remote Undergraduate Research Experiences in Materials Research

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

NASA-Alabama Space Grant Consortium (ASGC) program at UAB is inviting applications for a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program during Fall-2020 and Spring-2021 from students that are currently enrolled at UAB. We offer REU-projects in five research clusters: (1) computational materials research/machine learning (2) materials under extreme conditions (3) materials for energy applications, (4) materials for sensors and laser applications, and (5) biomaterials for implants, tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. This REU experience will be offered in a hybrid model which will include fully remote participation for computational research projects and partly remote and partly on ground lab experiences for experimental research projects within the constraints of social distancing and other laboratory safety measures. The undergraduates will carry out the analysis of data generated in their research projects in a fully remote fashion and make Zoom presentations on completed research to faculty mentors and other undergraduates participating in this program.

The program will offer flexible working hours during Fall-2020 and Spring-2021 (staring October 1, 2020 and ending February 28th, 2021). The program will pay $5,000 over the entire work period involving 400 hours of remote/hybrid research with a faculty mentor at UAB.

For program information contact program director Yogesh Vohra ( and for application questions contact program coordinator Charita Cadenhead (

The application deadline is September 15th, 2020. Apply using the following web-site.

2019 REU Bryce Coyne Attends Photonics West Conference

Photonics West Conference 2020

Bryce CoyneAttending the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco was an incredible experience that shed new light onto my research and the filed of optics and lasers that I was previously unaware of. This was my first academic conference that I had attended and being a talk presenter made it feel even more like jumping into the deep end of a pool. The first couple days the scale of the conference was quite overwhelming, with the events spanning three conference halls and multiple hotels in the area. I was able deal with the nerves that I had going into my presentation using some meditation skills I have acquired through collegiate baseball. Going over my talk with my research advisor it came to my attention how important it is to be as accurate as possible when discussing my research in the professional setting. I had previously presented this research in August of 2019 to fellow undergraduate physics researchers and mentors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At Photonics West my talk would be under significantly more scrutiny than in the undergraduate setting. The pressure resulted in me having to know the ins and outs of all aspects of my talk. Post-talk questions also brought to light a couple aspects of my research I has not previously thought of. For most, I was asked about potential utilization of the InP crystal analyzed for laser applications going forward which could have real merit and possibilities. This would turn my summer research project into a large-scale project similar to a dissertation.

At the conference I was also able to attend a four-hour course on laser fundamentals with the emphasis being placed how the private laser sector discusses and buys/sells laser systems. The course in addition to providing new information allowed me to think about private optics companies which may be a field I have interest getting into in my future.

The conference also had a large exhibition for companies to showcase new technologies that they have developed. Companies ranged from small photonics start-ups to large companies such as ThorLabs and M2. Personally, walking about the exhibition hall and discussing products and jobs with exhibitioners was more insightful than sitting in on talks. I was able to relate skills and tools that I have developed in the lab to what others are doing in private sectors. To me the exhibition hall was the hidden aspect of science that is an accumulation of academia. Up to this point in my life, education has been the end goal but I now a new perspective of where my education may lead me to. And Photonics West was a great intersection of academics presenting talks and posters while companies showcase their technologies. Overall, the conference was a challenge I had to face in presenting and getting over fears along with a great opportunity to see how much insightful and interesting stuff is going on in optics. I am incredibly humble and grateful to be given this opportunity to present and attend the conference and I hope to continue to make the most of the opportunity that I was given.

Now Recruiting for 2020 NSF REU Program

Research Experiences for Undergraduates 2020

We are now accepting applications for undergraduate students from around the country to participated in our 10-week National Science Foundation (NSF) supported Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in “Experimental and Computational Materials Research”. We offer a broad range of interdisciplinary materials research experiences to undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds in physics, chemistry, applied mathematics, and engineering. Stipend for the 10-week period is $5000. Housing will be provided to non-local participants. Application Deadline: March 15, 2020. If students have any questions about logistics, housing, and travel arrangements, they may contact Charita Cadenhead, our Program Coordinator at (205) 975-8076 or via e-mail at

2020 REU Recruitment Poster

REU Skyler Hanson

Skyler Hanson

Skyler is one of 14 participants in our 2019 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Pictured here, Skyler is at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. While there she conducted x-ray diffraction studies on laser heated sample at high-pressures at Sector 16, Advanced Photon Source.

One of the many advantages of participating in our REU program are opportunities to travel to national labs.

After the program ends there is a window of time that the program will support travel to a conference. The following criteria qualifies participants for travel support:

    • Confer with mentor to determine if conference is suitable based on REU project
    • Must be invited to present at conference
    • Forward a copy of invite to Program Coordinator, Charita H. Cadenhead along with mentor approval
    • Participant must submit a write up of their experience at the conference
    • Submit all receipts for reimbursement up to $500.

REU Brian Davis Selected for BMES 2018

Brian Davis Presented Poster at 2018 BMES

Brian Davis Morehouse CollegeCongratulations to Brian Davis for being selected to present his poster at the 2018 Biomedical Engineering Society, October 17-20 in Atlanta, GA.

Abstract Title: Cardiac Magnetogenetics: Noninvasive Control of the Heart
Authors: Brian Davis, Lufang Zhou, Patrick Ernst

Brian’s poster presentation is scheduled for Saturday, October 20 in the from 9:30am – 1:00pm.

You’ll find more information about the BMES on their website.

Congrats to 2018 Expo Winners

2018 REU Expo Winners

Jenna Gearhart

1st Place Physical Sciences Winner

Jenna Gearhart
Waynesburg University
Forensic Science Major



Tristan Carlson

2nd Place (Tie) Physical Sciences Winner

Tristan Carlson
Sewanee:  The University of the South
Physics Major



Victoria Colvin

2nd Place (Tie) Physical Sciences Winner

Victoria Colvin
Troy University
Physics Major



Toria Chukwuemeka

3rd Place Winner Engineering

Toria Chukwuemeka
Xavier University
Biology Major

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.