Many federal agencies provide undergraduate research opportunities, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Department of Energy Science (DOE), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Homeland Security.
The NSF funds a large number of research opportunities for students through its Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program. The program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in ongoing research programs or in research projects designed especially for undergraduate participation. There are two mechanisms for supporting student research in an REU program: (1) REU Sites are based on independent proposals to initiate and conduct projects that engage a number of students in research. REU Sites may be based in a single discipline or academic department, or on interdisciplinary or multi-department research opportunities with a coherent intellectual theme. (2) REU Supplements may be requested for ongoing NSF-funded research projects or may be included as a component of proposals for new or renewal NSF grants or cooperative agreements.
Undergraduate students can participant in either Sites or Supplements, and must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. Students are given stipends, and possibly assistance with housing and travel. Students do not apply to the NSF to participate in REU activities. Students apply directly to REU Sites. The NSF maintains a directory of active REU sites. An efficient way to locate REU sites is to access the directory (nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm) and select a specific academic discipline area, a specific location or a specific academic institution. Professor Ron Brisbois states that the REU program in chemistry at the University of Utah is a great program.
Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs) are funded by the NSF and support interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary materials research and education.
The National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary agency for support of biomedical research. Summer programs at the NIH provide an opportunity to spend a summer working side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The NIH includes more than 1200 laboratories located on the main campus in Bethesda, MD as well as in Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park, NC; Phoenix, AZ; Hamilton, MT; and Detroit, Michigan.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse
Students work with National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) scientists for 8 weeks in the field of substance abuse and addiction research at research institutions across the United States. Internships may involve a variety of experiences including laboratory experiments, data collection and analysis, patient interviews, literature reviews and more.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Collegiate Leaders In Environmental Health: Summer Undergraduate Internship. The CDC has a ten week summer program in Environmental Public Health at the National Center for Environmental Health /Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a 10-week paid summer internship for undergraduate students passionate about the environment, about health, and about the link between the two. This opportunity is for students majoring in Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, or related fields. Students will assist with projects and be paired with mentors to gain experience in Environmental Public Health.
The National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) hires approximately 10,000 temporary and seasonal employees annually to meet the needs of visitors and to manage and protect resources.
Other federal agencies offer summer research opportunities. Students must be either United States citizens or permanent residents of the United States. These agencies include: