Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) - Summer 2021

UPDATE 4/7/21: Applications are currently under review by our selection committee and we hope to release decisions within the next week. Thank you for your patience and continued interest in the Summer 2021 Columbia University Materials Research REU Program!

The joint Materials Research Center program at Columbia University and City College of NY (CCNY) supports outstanding undergraduates as Summer Research Fellows each year. In addition, a joint REU program between Columbia and the City University of New York’s Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) may have additional openings. Those selected will have an opportunity to participate fully in an interdisciplinary research program that draws faculty from the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Applied Physics, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, and Electrical Engineering, nearby government laboratories (Brookhaven National Laboratory, etc.), and industry (IBM, etc.).

Our materials research program encompasses two research thrusts around the theme of building higher dimensional materials from lower dimensional structures with unprecedented levels of control. The first thrust combines two-dimensional layered materials such as graphene into layered heterostructures; the second combines molecular ‘superatoms’ into three-dimensional solids.  Both thrusts are built around techniques pioneered by the team, and bring together researchers with diverse capabilities, strong accomplishments, and a record of collaboration. 

During the program, all REU students will also be involved in workshops, visits to local industry, recreational activities, a symposium of presentations by students, and other activities. It will include training in: laboratory practices and safety; shared materials characterization tools; and scientific writing/presentations. Students attend a weekly research seminar series by Columbia, CCNY and ASRC faculty, and present results at a daylong symposium at the end of the program.

Summer 2021 research areas available: Synthesis, Characterization, and Theory of Molecular Cluster Materials | Synthesis, Characterization, and Theory of 2D Materials and Heterostructures

Tentative Summer 2021 program dates: June 1, 2021 – July 31, 2021*

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 11:59 PM March 14, 2021


*NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, summer 2021 program dates are subject to change, and will be confirmed closer to the start of the program. At present, we plan for all aspects of the summer 2021 REU program to be remote.



The 2021 REU application will be live during the first week of December 2020! Please find application requirements below:

  1. Online application form submitted by the deadline (now 11:59 PM on March 14, 2021)
  2. Unofficial college/university transcript uploaded to application
  3. Personal statement essay (500 words maximum) describing:
    ·        Your research interests and experiences
    ·        Which REU research area interests you and why
    ·        Expectations for the summer
    ·        Graduate school plans, and your career plans and goals
  4. CV/Resume
  5. Two recommendation letters from professors or lab supervisors (at least one should be from a math, science or engineering professor). Two letters are required to be submitted by the deadline.

*NOTE: Before submitting your application, please confirm all documents have uploaded correctly and are fully visible in the application


Tip: We have migrated to a new application system. If you have previously applied for our REU program, you will need to create a new account. Please fill out the application completely to be considered for our REU program. If you experience difficulty accessing the application, please reach out to [email protected]

Projects of interest and instruments for the MRSEC REU:

Topics of interest (projects)

  • Synthesis, Characterization, and Theory of Molecular Cluster Materials
  • Synthesis, Characterization, and Theory of 2D Materials and Heterostructures


  • Electron microscopes
  • Etching
  • Deposition
  • E-beam and photo-lithography
  • X-ray diffraction
  • AFM
  • Raman

1. Will you be holding a summer 2021 program? What are the dates?
We do plan to hold a summer 2021 REU program, which we hope to run for approximately 9 weeks. Pending updates, we plan for the full-time program to begin on or around June 1st and run through July 31st, 2021. At present, we plan for the summer 2021 program to be remote, with the option to hold an in-person program if the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic improves.

2. How much is the stipend?
The stipend for 2021 is expected to be $5,000. This stipend may be used for food and subsistence. You will not be paying for housing.

3. What about housing?
If we are able to hold an in-person program, housing will be coordinated and provided for REU participants on-campus in the East Campus dormitory located on the Columbia Morningside (116th Street) campus.

4. What about food?
REU participants are responsible for their own meals. There are university summer meal plan options as well as local grocery stores and restaurants (East Campus has student accessible kitchen facilities for cooking).

5. What about travel expenses?
In the event that an in-person program takes place, allowable round-trip travel expenses to and from the summer program will be reimbursed up to $500 (“regular” tickets only, no first-class, etc.) per participant, subject to the Columbia University travel policy. Original receipts must be provided.

6. Do I need health insurance?
Yes – Columbia will cover minimal care for health issues during the 9-week program.

7. What will I be doing during the program?
You will be working on your research project with your faculty mentor, attending our weekly seminar series, and interacting with other summer science research students in other programs formally and informally, such as on field trips and special events/symposium/seminars.

8. When is the application deadline?
All complete online applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM on Sunday February 28th, 2021.

9. What are the application requirements?
Prospective REU participants must complete the online application and personal statement; upload all college transcripts (unofficial is fine), a CV/resume, as well as two letters of recommendation. No prior research experience is required. Students must be entering their sophomore, junior, or senior years of college – no graduating seniors, please!

10. When do I find out if I am accepted?
Applicants will be notified in late March to mid-April 2021.

11. When do I find out what projects I will be working on?
REU students, faculty, and projects are closely matched after participants have been accepted. The participant will be notified of this match as soon as possible. Each student’s major, research preference, and experience are taken into careful consideration regarding project match.

12. Are international students allowed to apply?
Unfortunately, due to regulations governing the use of federal funding, we are only able to offer admission to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

13. Why choose Columbia’s Materials Research REU program?

  • Access to leading materials research faculty mentors
  • Excellent materials science research facilities
  • Collaborative setting with other summer program participants at Columbia University and CCNY

For additional information, please contact:

Columbia University MRSEC REU

Schapiro/CEPSR, Room 1001

530 West 120th St., MC 8903

New York, NY 10027

[email protected]