Undergraduate summer research experience program


Applications for Summer 2021 will open November 1, 2020.


CEMB seeks motivated undergraduate students for its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program for summer 2021.  Students participate in 10-week, on-campus programs in Philadelphia or St. Louis, working in research groups at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis.  Students are matched to projects within a research group based on their interests, educational background, and previous research experience.

Many projects are interdisciplinary and provide opportunities to develop research skills in the physical sciences, the biological sciences, and engineering. Students develop practical research skills: collaborating, designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and communicating results. Other aspects of the program complement the lab experience and are oriented toward professional development and career skills: seminars, journal clubs, and professional and career workshops, including training in ethics, innovation, and technology transfer.

Research Areas

  • molecular biology
  • cell and tissue mechanics in plants and animals
  • bioengineering
  • biochemistry and biophysics
  • computational biology
  • biomedical devices
  • nanoscale science and engineering

To see examples of past projects, view the Project Archives.

2021 Program Details

Program Dates: June 1 – August 6, 2021

Locations: (a common application allows you to apply to either site or BOTH sites)

  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

The program offers:

  • A competitive stipend
  • Summer housing
  • Travel assistance (if eligible)
  • Social activities (Cardinals/Phillies baseball, outings in the city, cook-outs on campus)


  • US Citizens or Permanent Residents
  • Rising junior or senior in an undergraduate degree program
  • Enrolled in a science or engineering degree program
  • Historically underrepresented populations are strongly encouraged to apply

Application deadline:  February 1, 2021

Application submission: APPLICATIONS WILL OPEN NOVEMBER 1, 2020.

In order to complete this application, you will need to upload the following documents as PDF files as part of this online application process:

  1. A one-page resume
    (file name format: Lastname_Firstname_RESUME.pdf)
  2. Transcripts
    (file name format: Lastname_Firstname_TRANSCRIPT.pdf)
  3. A one-page statement of research interest
    (file name format: Lastname_Firstname_STATEMENT.pdf)

Research Statement (1-page limit): Briefly describe your interest in research at the CEMB (Why are you interested in mechanobiology research? Are there particular faculty with whom you would like to work and why?)  Describe any prior experiences conducting supervised research and what your plans are after graduating.

Letters of Recommendation (2 required): Invitations will be sent to letter writers you identify through the Interfolio system.  Your best letters will be from faculty mentors/advisors, previous (or current) course instructors, and previous (or current) research supervisors.  Individuals should be able to speak to your academic achievements and abilities, as well as personal characteristics and professional promise.  Letters of recommendation (PDF files only) must be uploaded directly to the Interfolio system by each letter writer.

Please contact Annie Jeong at Penn, annjeong@seas.upenn.edu for any questions regarding the overall program.

Please contact Patricia Widder at WashU, pwidder9876@wustl.edu for questions regarding the program at Washington University.