July 11, 2022 Lauri Stone

REU, SURF, & SHURP… Connecting Undergrads with Summer Science Research Programs in One Portal

It’s not every day that an aspiring scientist finds themselves in a small lab spending half of their summer being mentored by an esteemed scientist and professor. It is a dream opportunity for hands-on learning and a rare one at that. The programs are available to a select few applicants who must pass the strict criteria and still make an even shorter, short list. In fact, some say the acceptance rates into a summer research program can be just as difficult as getting into even the most prestigious ivy league university.

It is grand, it is special… and the science communities know this, which explains the high application numbers that are well into the hundreds for any one program. University administrators must sift through stacks of qualified applicants with only a dozen or less seats available to fill.  It’s a tedious process for both administrators and students.

Whether the student is interested in chemistry, engineering, materials, nanotechnology, energy, biology, mathematics, or some other scientific area, one thing is certain– this is a summer they will never forget. It is also a giant step closer to a promising future career in science, presenting an opportunity for students to start building their professional network with world-renowned researchers and to do so among the best and brightest peers.


Where are these programs and how do you find them?

Ambitious undergraduates must search for programs related to their areas of interest and there are countless programs out there, usually centered around a central theme. One of the best known resources for program information is located at the National Science Foundation (NSF) website, where there are hundreds of science research summer programs listings across the country. These programs are known as Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and are funded by the NSF at host university sites.

There are also other summer undergrad programs outside of the NSF.  They are identical in timeline, experience, structure, processes, and of course, prestige. The programs also carry all sorts of acronyms to identify them; SURF, SURE, SPARK, SHURP, SPUR, SROP, to name a few. Whatever program the university is hosting is usually abbreviated and out there… It is up to the potential applicant to find them.


Why is this information scattered all over the internet when today’s college student is accustomed to receiving information with just a few clicks?


There are very few “hubs” or directories for ALL summer undergrad research programs in existence. That means to locate science programs outside of the NSF, a student must visit university website after university website, spending hours using an individualized approach with self-made search criteria and filters. This is surprising considering the inherent work involved for both applicants and administrators.

On the other side for the university admin, having a main portal that provides critical information using advanced search criteria would make a significant difference. The greater visibility of their program and the reach this visibility to applicants allows, most certainly creates a more broad and diverse candidate pool. Tapping into where qualified students are, and all in one place saves time and refines the recruitment efforts.

After all, with such a dream opportunity, the process should be as efficient, quick and easy as possible. The whole point is to opens doors for every qualified science student to have a chance. In addition, the community information collected in the portal yields greater recruitment results for the administrator. Opening doors for the student is the end game goal…. using a portal to help that process along makes the best use of time and effort.


Introducing the REUSites Portal

The REUSites portal opens up the world of the undergraduate summer research opportunities by listing all programs, funny names and all, across the country. Whether the science program is attached to the NSF or is a standalone, independent university program, every summer undergrad research opportunity is within the portal and located with just a few clicks.

Even better, the search filters provide information-seeking students results that are highly personalized, allowing them to quickly locate programs related to their criteria; science areas of interests, location, run dates, deadlines, stipends/perks/housing info, and more.

By having these search filters in place, this provides the candidate relevant program information that ticks every box for what they are seeking. Since the student and a particular program are better aligned, their odds of acceptance could be heightened.

The added benefit– and a considerable one at that –  is the portal’s ease of use for the administrators, keeping their programs updated in the portal and ultimately gaining access to a more diverse and broad pool of qualified applicants.

Give us a shout and reach out

To check out the REUSites portal, click here.

If you are an REU or other undergrad summer research administrator and would like to find out more information about your listing information, go here.

If you are a summer research program administrator looking to improve and automate your application process, click here to learn about the REUApp, the software that simplifies processes for applicants, reviewers, and recommenders saving 50% of the time it usually takes.

Sanmita is an award-winning strategy, design and technology firm with over 15 years experience in working with higher education. Check out our work and testimonials here.


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Lauri Stone

Lauri Stone is Director of Client Relations at Sanmita, Inc., a web design and development firm offering strategy, design, and technology services to higher education, government, and nonprofit entities. She comes to Sanmita with over 25 years of experience in media marketing and advertising and is located in Los Angeles, California.