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REU Program

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Program Dates: May 26 - August 7, 2021
Application Open: January 10, 2021
Application Deadline: February 14, 2021

REU 2017
Join undergraduates from colleges and universities across the United States. Engage in full-time, cutting-edge research on a project of your choice.

The program includes:

  • Stipend of $5,000
  • Travel allowance and on-campus housing (to non-local students)
  • Training and research
  • Weekly luncheon seminars
  • Activities with other University of Utah REU programs
  • Outdoor adventures in the spectacular Wasatch mountains
  • Culminating symposium

REU Projects for Summer 2021

We have worked with our faculty mentors to develop REU summer projects that will provide students with meaningful and safe chemistry research experiences. We expect to offer a mix of projects in summer 2021 that can be conducted in-person or remotely, so that students with different circumstances and health risks can participate.

On the application, students need to indicate their interest in up to four projects. Please click on the short title to expand to read the full description and access a link to the lab website, which has more information about the research group. 

Projects that will be conducted in-person are designated as "IP" or will be conducted remotely are designated as "R"; those with both designations can be conducted in-person or remotely, depending on student preference.

REU students will work on the synthesis of biologically active small molecules, many of which are natural products. The student will be trained in modern synthetic and analytical chemistry techniques; they should expect that their efforts will include the development of synthesis methodology. Examples of projects that REU students might be involved in include the synthesis of small molecule therapeutics for eye diseases (macular degeneration), small molecule antibiotics and/or virulence inhibitors as a means of impacting our societal need for new antibiotics, and the generation of small molecules capable of effecting an immune response. The latter project was initiated in response to the COVID pandemic but is not necessarily limited to viral diseases.

Rainier Lab Website

The Roberts laboratory is focused on the design and chemical synthesis of therapeutically relevant peptides. Our chemistry draws inspiration from the unique structural elements and function present in ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs) and miniproteins. We are interested in the development of chemoselective methods for peptide ligation, macrocyclization, glycosylation and modification. The student(s) will learn how to synthesize, modify and purify peptides using solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) and chromatographic techniques. Specifically, the student(s) will assist with the development of a method for chemoselective macrocyclization and/or bicyclization of peptides at tyrosine/tryptophan residues.

Roberts Lab Website

The REU student will explore the chemistry of new Mn complexes for electrocatalytic CO2 reductions and hydrogenations of organic carbonyl structures. The student will become familiar with air-free techniques, electrochemistry, and thermochemistry. The goal of the project is to see if amino-phenol ligands can facilitate H-atom transfer to the metal, thereby making a reactive Mn-H species at lower over-potentials (using less energy). The student will have the option to focus more on catalysis or thermochemical characterization.

Saouma Lab Website

Laser spectroscopic studies of small transition metal and lanthanide molecules using a combination of lasers, directed either toward (1) the collection of rotationally resolved spectra of diatomic transition metal borides in order to measure bond lengths, vibrational frequencies, and electronic state symmetries; or (2) the measurement of bond dissociation energies of diatomic transition metal and lanthanide - main group molecules, such as the diatomic transition metal halides, lanthanide carbides, transition metal oxides, or transition metal carbides. The student will become familiar with the methods of pulsed laser ablation of a metal sample in a supersonic expansion and resonant two- and three-photon spectroscopy with detection in a time-of-flight mass spectrometer; as well as the calibration and analysis of spectra. If it becomes necessary for some work to be done remotely, quantum chemistry methods will be employed to calculate the molecules under investigation. 

Morse Lab Website

The REU student will synthesize new electrocatalysts and characterize them for applications in synthetic organic electrosynthesis. They will also become familiar with electrochemical techniques for evaluating electrocatalysts and learn about surface analysis tools.

Minteer Lab Website 

The REU student will use qualitative methods to determine the factors students believe relate to their perception of course-level belonging and classroom inclusivity in introductory STEM courses. The student will use these factors to develop student and instructor survey items that will be used to probe quantitatively STEM classroom inclusion and course-level belonging and their effects on student outcomes. The student will become familiar with modern qualitative methods and survey instrument development, and will be introduced to statistical quantitative methods. The student will work collaboratively with other researchers in the group and will learn how to analyze, discuss, and present education-research data.

Frey Lab Website 

The REU student will be involved in the determination of thermochemistry using experiments with a guided ion beam tandem mass spectrometer (GIBMS) (if in-person mode is of interest and appropriate) coupled with theory (both in-person and remote options will be available). Types of projects could involve a) the determination of the hydration energies of alkaline earth hydroxide cations, i.e., bond energies for MOH+(H2O)x species; b) determination of the energetics for dissociation of protonated or sodiated dipeptides; or c) studies of the reactions of lanthanide or actinide metal cations with small molecules. In-person students would become familiar with the operation of the GIBMS apparatus. Both in-person and remote students would learn to analyze data and perform ab initio calculations of the systems of interest using the University’s high performance computing environment (CHPC).

Armentrout Lab Website

The REU student will utilize our new cyclic ion mobility-mass spectrometry-based platform to develop analytical methods for the separation of various isomeric glycoconjugates (e.g., glycolipids, glycosylated flavonoids, glycoproteins, etc.). The student will gain an understanding of gas-phase ion mobility separations, mass spectrometry instrumentation, glycobiology, and data processing. 

Nagy Lab Website

The REU student will participate in a project focused on identifying chemical communication signals produced by under-explored bacteria. The student will become familiar with modern chemical microbiology techniques including genomics, natural product extraction, analytical chemistry, and microbial genetics. 

Puri Lab Website 

The REU student will compute the vibrational spectra of hydrated transition metal ions and catalysts that are involved in renewable-energy catalysis.  The student will learn to use quantum chemistry software and methodology, as well as techniques for simulating anharmonic spectroscopy.  The student will also learn and use basic coding techniques, as well as scientific computing approaches and visualization techniques.

Steele Lab Website

Developing synthesis and characterization schemes to experimentally realize quantum materials with fine control over their properties is a central goal of modern quantum electronics. Such fine control holds tantalizing opportunities for the development of unique electronic/photonic devices with mindboggling functionalities. In this project, students will develop a suite of 2D pi-d conjugated coordination polymers with properties applicable to quantum electronics. Particular emphasis will be placed on generating a fundamental mechanistic understanding of the influence of electronic structure, morphology, defects, and spin interactions on the thermoelectric and spintronic properties of these 2D pi-d conjugated coordination polymers. Students will get hands-on experience pertaining to the synthesis, structural and electrical characterization, and device fabrication of materials for quantum electronics.

Whittaker-Brooks Lab Website

The REU student will develop new Ni catalyzed cycloaddition methodology and synthesize new heterocyclic structures to be evaluated for biological activity. The students will become familiar with air-sensitive techniques (such as the use of an inert atmosphere Glove Box and a Schlenk vacuum line), standard organic syntheses, and spectroscopic analysis.

Louie Lab Website


Program Directors

Professor Ming Hammond

Professor Michael Gruenwald

How to Apply

Check back January 2022 for the Summer 2022 application.

Application Parts: Personal, school, and references info (two reference letters required); College transcript (file upload); Project selection and statement of interest (300 words), Personal statement (1 page, file upload)

Step one: Imagine. Step two: Do. Opportunity awaits.
All things are possible at a place we call Imagine U. 
The University of Utah

Last Updated: 6/3/21