Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for this program?

We are looking for a diverse group of students who are current undergraduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors. You can be a freshman to super senior. The ideal candidate will be bilingual in Spanish and English. You must be a current undergraduate student and a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or permanent resident of the United States. You also must have a valid passport or green card to participate in this program. You also must be enrolled in undergraduate classes in the fall semester to participate in this program.

Will travel and housing costs be covered?

The expenses covered by the program include round trip air travel to and from Illinois (for out of state participants) or travel cost reimbursement (for participants living nearby). Round trip air travel to and from Cancun, Mexico, is also included, as well as room and board for the duration of the program.

What is the stipend?

Participating students will receive a stipend of $600 per week (disbursed bimonthly through direct deposit) for the eight weeks.

Are there any required skills?

While you don't need any special skills to participate in this program, we are looking for exceptional students who are hard workers and are willing to develop and improve their research skills. You should be comfortable working outdoors, have organizational and time management skills, and have good attention to detail.

I'm not a geology major. Am I still eligible for this program?

Yes. The ideal applicant is in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) major. This includes geology, environmental science, biology, engineering, and many other majors. Students in non-STEM majors or with undeclared majors are also welcome to apply as long as they have taken at least one year of a basic science (biology, chemistry, earth science, or physics).

I have a conflict that would require me to miss part of the program. Can I still participate?

During the program weekends are mostly free (with the exception of travel weekends), so participants are permitted to come and go as they please. Note that any extra travel costs incurred for conflicts will not be covered or reimbursed. Conflicts occurring between Monday and Friday are handled on a case-by-case basis and are unlikely to be approved (exceptions have included green card interviews and major scholarship interviews). We may be able to accommodate late arrivals or early departures that are necessary because of semester start or end dates, but these will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Is there a list of the questions that are in the application?New

Yes, you can preview the questions below or download a copy

  • Name
  • Preferred name and pronoun
  • Birthday
  • Preferred email
  • Phone number
  • Citizenship- you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to be part of this
  • Current mailing address
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Veteran Status
  • Disability
  • Do you speak Spanish? And what level?
  • Do you have a valid passport good through Dec. 31, 2024? (if you current don’t have a passport there might not be enough time to get it before June due to the backlog)
  • Current college or university
  • Type of college
  • Degree program
  • Enrollment – full or part time
  • Current class standing- you must be registered for fall 2024 classes as an undergraduate to be part of this REU
  • Expected date of degree completion
  • Are you transferring to a different college or university in the fall?
  • Is your current institution a Hispanic-Serving Institution?
  • Academic Major
  • Minor
  • GPA
  • GPA in the major
  • Please provide us with any information regarding your GPA that you think will help us in evaluating your application (e.g. particularly good or bad semesters, anything else you think is relevant).
  • Pell grant recipient
  • Eligible to receive financial aid
  • How are you financing your education?
  • What is the highest grade or degree for your mother and father? Occupation?
  • Rank the projects
  • Why are you interested in the REU?
  • What are your academic and professional goals? How will your participation in the project help you achieve these goals?
  • Tell us about a significant experience where you were challenged and learned something new – maybe something in school, work, or your personal life. What were the challenges you faced, how did you overcome them, and what did you take away from the experience?
  • Name and email address of person who will provide you with a letter of recommendation.  They are due by March 1, 2024.  You will be responsible for them to provide the letter of recommendation.  Only one letter is required but you have more than one submitted for you.  You can also change who is providing the letter from the one listed here.
  • What are your existing time commitments that would affect your participation in the program?
  • How did you hear about the REU?
  • Have you already participated in an NSF REU?
  • Unofficial Transcripts can be uploaded here or email to
  • Are you fully vaccinated and for tetanus?
  • Please tell us about your academic interests
  • Do you have any previous experience with research as an undergraduate?
  • Are there any other experiences that you feel are important for us to know about?
  • Are there any specific skills that you feel will bring to the project?
  • Are you a member of any national organization?
  • Honors or awards?


Do I need to be fluent in Spanish?
No. We have had students in the past who are completely fluent in Spanish and some who don't speak any Spanish. All students were successful. However, if you speak any Spanish your Spanish will improve during the summer.

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Melissa Lenczewski

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