REU Application instructions

How to apply
The Moen lab REU program is designed to train students in basic scientific research. Preference will be given to candidates who can demonstrate their past success in education and (possibly) research, as well as their motivation for being successful in this summer program. The academic transcript and references are useful in this regard, but the essay is really where you can distinguish yourself from other applicants.

Minimum requirements for acceptance are:

  • At least one year of college-level coursework completed before starting the program (i.e. you are a currently enrolled student)
  • Continued enrollment in the fall semester after the program. Students cannot graduate before starting the program.
  • Majoring in a biology-related discipline.
  • A 3.0 GPA
  • Ability to commit to the 8-week program with no other substantial commitments (e.g. summer courses; a job)

Steps for applying

  1. Write your essay. Please see instructions below.
  2. Ask a professor who knows you well to recommend you for this program. This should be someone with whom you have interacted closely in a class or with whom you have done scientific research. Tell him/her about this program, why you want to apply, and what you hope to learn. You will enter this person’s contact information (email and phone number) in the application form.
  3. Download a copy of your most recent academic transcript. You will upload it with your application. Unofficial copies are fine.
  4. When you have all of this information, please fill in the application form online here.

Important dates
15 March: Application is due at 5pm.
26–28 March: Interviews conducted.
29 March: Accepted candidates are notified.
27 May – 19 July: REU program

Essay instructions
The essay is the most important part of your application. It will help us understand your motivations for participating in this project, what you intend to learn, how you can contribute to diversity in the sciences, and how participation will help you in your scientific career.           

You should carefully consider your essay, write multiple drafts, and ask at least one person with more writing experience (e.g. a graduate-student mentor, a faculty member) to read your essay and give you constructive criticism. You may have very good motivations for participating and can contribute much to the REU program, but if you cannot convey that effectively in writing, your application will suffer.

There are a few formatting requirements for the essay: length of 1–2 pages; 1-inch margins; 12-point font.

The essay has three parts. You should treat each separately, giving each its own heading:

(1) Why do you want to participate in the program?
Explain why you are interested in research, and briefly describe any previous experience if you have it. Some questions that you could address are:

  • What is your research background?
  • What are your long-term professional goals?
  • Why do you want to do research in this particular program?
  • What interests you about studying amphibians? Evolutionary biology? Body form and function?

(2) What kind of projects would you want to pursue?
The research in this program focuses on the evolution of body form and function in amphibians. Please look at the kinds of research we do in the Moen lab, and read a few recent papers. Generate two or three ideas for research projects you could complete in the two-month time of the REU program. While we already have in mind specific projects, this section will give us a sense for how you have prepared for the program and your ability to think about doing research.

(3) How can you contribute to diversity?
Historically, science has not been diverse in the identities (e.g. background, gender, culture) of those doing it. Describe what you can bring to the REU that other students may not be able to contribute. Some possibilities:

  • If your scientific background and training has not prepared you for the kinds of research done in this program (see point 2), what will that different training contribute? Do you have a unique perspective that you can contribute?
  • Have you had life experiences that have influenced your desire to do research?
  • What challenges have you experienced and overcome in your pursuit of science?
  • What makes you unique or different in the scientific community?

Ready to apply? Click here!