Program Details


The period of the program for the summer of 2015 is from May 26th to July 31st. It is expected that students will normally be working here at Penn State throughout this time. If these dates conflict with your school’s academic schedule please let us know on your application form. It may be possible to arrange alternative dates in some cases.


Students will receive a stipend of $5,000 for the summer for the NSF funded Interdisciplinary Materials Physics and MRSEC REU Programs. Housing will be paid for for NSF funded students.

Students of Penn State’s Physics Department will receive a salary determined by the department. Currently this salary is $4000. Housing is not included for Penn State Physics Students.


Visiting students will be matched with mentors from Condensed Matter Physics, Interdisciplinary Physics, Materials Science, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering departments, according to their mutual interests. In your application you will have the opportunity to describe your research interests. Examples of previous research can be found on the research page.


We can reimburse out-of-state students for some travel expenses to and from Penn State for visiting students. The University Park campus is located in central Pennsylvania, in the town of State College. State College is about a three hour drive or bus ride from Pittsburgh, about four hours from Philadelphia, Washington DC or Baltimore and five hours from New York. Flights into State College are available through Detroit, Philadelphia or Washington Dulles.


The NSF requires that REU participants must be either US citizens or permanent residents (Penn State Physics Students can be of any nationality). During the summer students must be enrolled in a program leading to a bachelor’s degree. The only exception is for students transferring from one university or college to another. High school graduates who have not yet entered a bachelor’s program, and seniors graduating before the summer are not eligible. Most students in the program will probably be college juniors, however applications are also welcomed from sophomores and freshman.

Women, Minorities and the Disabled

An important goal of the REU program is to provide an opportunity to do research to students who would not normally have the chance to do so. This especially includes women, members of minority and disabled groups who are currently significantly underrepresented in the physics community and whose talents will be an important contribution to the nation’s scientific resources for the future. Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the staff at (814) 865-3884 in advance of your participation or visit.

Housing Arrangements

The visiting REU participants will be housed in university apartments that are a short walk from the department of Physics. Students will be responsible for making their own arrangements for meals – all apartments have kitchens. A number of restaurants are available both on campus and off campus. Convenience and grocery stores are also within easy reach. Please note, you will be responsible for all problems and damages that may occur during your stay. Parking is an option as well and will be an extra charge.

Group Training:

The first full day on campus will be spent on an orientation tour of the physics department, research facilities, libraries, and the campus. This will include recreation and cultural facilities, and other resource centers. You will complete safety training, and get your penn state ID activated. You will meet your faculty advisor and the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in your research group. During the first weeks of the summer, we offer an introductory machine shop course. The machine shop course provides instruction and supervised shop time to develop the skills many times required in the fabrication of unique experimental equipment during your summer experience and, possibly later, in your doctoral research.


There are two outreach activities which occur during the suDSCN3114.JPGmmer in which REU students have had the opportunity to participate. One is a trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to learn about how science is conveyed in a museum setting. The other is helping to staff a science booth during Kids Day of the Central Pennsylvania Arts Fest,which happens in downtown State College. Both of these experiences provide an opportunity to learn and practice how science is conveyed to the public.

Professional Development:

The focus of this REU program is on scientific communication and interdisciplinary research. Each week will will have a meeting where we will cover topics of professional development relating to communicating science (be it to the public, to your peers, or to other scientists) and where faculty will describe their current research and other exciting current developments in their field. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.  To foster discussion about science and other topics there will also be networking and teambuilding activities organized to encourage everyone to get to know each other, and  graduate students, postdocs and faculty on an informal leveDSC02277.JPGl. This is one of the best ways to get a feel for what a career in science and engineering is all about.

Finally, at the end of the summer we will have a joint research symposium on the projects that have been carried out. Each student will give a short presentation on their project and a poster about their research to an audience of the other students and their graduate mentors and faculty advisors.