Monday, March 15, 2021

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs bring students to the University of Iowa (UI) to have active and meaningful participation in ongoing research projects.


students on campus in PPE

The two new REU programs, which are funded by the National Science Foundation, bring the total number of funded REU programs on the UI campus up to six, a threefold increase over four years.

“With the addition of two new REUs, the UI now has support to bring 60 rising sophomores and juniors from diverse backgrounds and institutions to our campus to spark their interest in research, build relationships with faculty and students, and prepare for grad school,” said Bob Kirby, director of the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates.

The 10-week residential programs provide a stipend of $6,000 per student, on-campus housing and food, and a mentored research experience for students who cannot get this training at their home institutions.

In a new Computational Bioengineering Summer REU, students take part in an immersive research experience to learn the fundamental concepts of computational bioengineering and how to apply those concepts to solve challenging biomedical problems.  Under the mentorship of an affiliated faculty member from the College of Engineering or Carver College of Medicine, students will work on their research project on topics ranging from orthopedic and cardiovascular biomechanics, medical imaging, neuroscience, computational genomics, mechanobiology, and tissue engineering.

The program is led by Edward Sander, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Guadalupe Canahuate, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Our success in getting this program funded is a reflection of the strong collaborative community we have at Iowa,” said Sander. “I am very excited to have a diverse set of students coming to campus this summer.”

Motivated by the considerable strain put on the U.S. healthcare system by the COVID-19 outbreak and an aging U.S. population, a second, new REU, Computing for Health and Well-Being, will train the next generation of computer scientists to work alongside health professionals as part of interdisciplinary, problem-focused teams. The REU program is led by Liza Kleiman, associate professor of instruction, and Octav Chipara, associate professor, in the Department of Computer Science. "This is a great opportunity to have students from institutions that have limited research availabilities participate in the cutting-edge interdisciplinary research projects with our faculty," said Kleiman.

The programs are adapting to the COVID-19 environment by implementing social distancing and mask-wearing, virtual and outside gatherings, single dorm rooms, and by following all lab safety protocols.

“These REU grants give students from a wide range of backgrounds the chance to come to the UI and find what sparks their interest and fuels their passions through research,” said UI Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz, whose career path was shaped by his undergraduate research experiences. “I know from first-hand experience that the chance to get involved in research as an undergraduate can reshape the career trajectory that someone imagines for themselves. Not only can these experiences be transformative for the students involved, but they enhance the fields of study by building the pipeline for the next generation of researchers and innovators in academia and industry.”

Additional information about all of the UI REU projects is available on the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates website.