Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

REU IDEA Incubator

A 10-week research immersive program where students will conduct semi-independent research and participate in team-based learning.
Fifteen participants from the summer 2020 R.E.U. program standing on staircase in Slawson Hall Atrium

Explore the Research:

Learn more about the research areas and review past REU projects titles and alumni.

About the Program

The IDEA Incubator is an exciting program that seeks to nurture innovations in porous materials by ‘Integrating Discovery, Engineering and Art’ (IDEA). Students will participate in 'unseminars' designed to improve scientific communication to a wide range of audiences through art. Workshops will bridge engineering and art through a variety of forms such as print screening, drawings, storyboards, and more. These sessions will build student confidence and enhance their public speaking skills. The education component of this REU utilizes art as a tool to help students contextualize their research projects with a sense of scale. The research projects will all relate to porous media. See "Why Porous Media?" below to learn more.

Research projects will focus on nurturing innovations in porous materials, which are of interest to scientists and industry because of their wide-variety of biomedical and chemical applications. For example, porous materials are used as adsorbents and membranes for separation, as catalysts for chemical reactions, and as scaffolds for tissue engineering. 

With a plethora of applications and wide-range of types, this arena is ideal for tinkering—and ripe for discovery and innovation. A host of variables can be altered and tested, from the composition of the pores and supporting matrix to the number, size, shape, and arrangement of the pores. REU participants will explore, learn and grow as researchers within this framework.

Projects will focus on a range of porous materials, including nanopores (pores <100 nm), micropores (<2 nm), mesopores (2-50 nm), and macropores (>50 nm).  Students will learn about how the distribution of pore size, shape and volume relates to the material’s function in targeted applications, while also learning about transferable concepts, such as mass transfer, thermodynamics and kinetics.

See REU Research Areas to learn more about potential projects in porous media.

The goal of this program is to expose diverse students to an empowering learning and research experience that will cultivate innovative thinking, enhance communication skills, foster a solid understanding of size and scale, and encourage graduate school pursuits and careers in science and engineering.

We aim for clearly defined projects with objectives and expectations that are achievable by undergraduates within 10-weeks. The projects are designed as an integrative system to ensure that students experience multiple aspects of design, synthesis, characterization and application. The collaborative nature of these projects will prepare students for doing research in both academic and professional settings in the future where collaboration is essential.  Students will work with faculty and graduate student mentors in an inclusive learning environment with state-of-the-art facilities at KU’s Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering.

Application deadline: January 31, 2022

Selection notifications start mid February until all spots are filled

Summer 2022 program dates: May 23 – July 29

Students will participate in scientific discussions, laboratory tours, boredom-busting ‘unseminars’, social mixers, team-building activities, and a research symposium. Storytelling practice, through print and digital media, will help students gain confidence and enhance their public speaking skills. Professional development workshops will help prepare students for both graduate school and industry. Our extensive partnerships with nine companies will also help students expand their network of contacts and learn about career opportunities.

  • $5,000 summer stipend
  • Travel costs to and from Lawrence, Kansas (up to $800)
  • Summer housing on campus where public transportation is readily available
  • Meal plan
  • State-of-the-art labs
  • Inclusive environment
  • Industry contacts
  • Safety training
  • Team research
  • Lab tours
  • Professional development

Complete the online application by January 31, 2022.

The application consists of general background information, a few short answer questions about your interest in research and this program, a personal essay, and letter of recommendation.

Before you get started, consider the following documents you will need to complete your application:

  1. Personal Essay -- This essay should cover four areas: Background, Achievements, Motivations, and Aspirations. In other words, please address the following: What is your background? Have you had any special academic achievements? What do you aspire to achieve in the future? What are your career goals? Is there any additional information that the reviewers should be award of? (Format: PDF file, 2 pages maximum, 12pt font, standard margins, single or double spacing will be accepted and is up to the applicant)
  2. Short Answer -- In 100 words or less answer the questions: What role might art play in engineering and innovation? What is it about this REU program that excites you?
  3. Unofficial College Transcripts as a PDF file (unofficial or "released to student" version is fine)
  4. Letter of Recommendation -- you will need to ask a person who is familiar with you to email a letter of recommendation on your behalf to Claudia Bode at This person should write about your academic abilities, accomplishments, level of motivation, communication style, work habits, and potential as a researcher.

Selection will be based on a variety of factors including current academic standing, letter of recommendation, short answer questions, and a personal essay. The essay and short answer questions are very important.  Use them to demonstrate how the program will benefit your education and future career.

Project matching will be based on both faculty and topic availability. We try to match students with the top research areas they express interest with on the application but cannot guarantee top pick.

KU students are welcome to apply and will be accepted based on the limited availability of department scholarships. These scholarships include the same stipend amount but do not include housing or meal plans and require one credit hour with self-funded tuition.

Other admission requirements:

  • USA citizenship or permanent residence status
  • GPA of 2.6 or better
  • Completed freshman year of study with an anticipated graduation date of December 2022 or later
  • Majors:  Chemistry, chemical engineering, bioengineering or a closely related field
  • No previous research experience is necessary

We strongly encourage students from minority serving institutions and community colleges to apply.  Women, minorities, and students with disabilities are also encouraged to apply. The University of Kansas is an equal opportunity institution, and our Academic Achievement and Access Center is dedicated to providing necessary services for individuals with special needs.


Start your application today! Deadline is January 31, 2022.

Questions about the program? Contact Claudia Bode at