23 April 2009

Texas A&M Imaging and Biomarkers REU program

The institution: Texas A&M University

The program:

  • 1 June 2009 &ndash 7 August 2009

  • Ten week research project led by a faculty mentor

  • $450/week stipend

  • Allowances for housing, meals and travel

  • Seminars, field trips, and career development workshops

  • 1.0 credit hour of undergraduate course credit

  • Access to university recreational facilities


  • Desire to participate in research as evidenced by application responses and faculty recommendation

  • Completion of at least the sophomore year of the curriculum for an academic major in engineering, computer science, or the life sciences

  • 3.00 GPA or above

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident

  • Graduate no earlier than December 2009

Deadline: 1 May 2009

More information: http://etidweb.tamu.edu/hsieh/REU

11 April 2009

What you don’t want to know about recommendation letters

Multi-Man from The ImpossiblesI was reviewing applications for a program today (not the REU, something completely unrelated), and was reading through an application folder, fairly far down in the stack. I got to the recommendation letter. It was very positive, but...

I’d seen it before.

I went back, and sure enough, found that two applicants had asked the same person for recommendation letters, and the referee had used the same damn form letter for both.

As a reviewer, it’s totally maddening. It reflect poorly on the referee, but you really can’t do anything about it. Worse, the poor applicants typically are going to have no idea that they’ve been stuck with a form letter.

Then there are reviewers who write two line recommendations, letters that say, “This student was in my class. This student got this grade in my class. I recommend them.”

Recommendation letters are tricky things for students applying to programs. They are out of your control. You rarely have any way of knowing who writes good letters and who takes the lazy route and writes form letters.

Roulette tableBut is it a pure roulette table, where “you pays your money and you takes your chances”? Not entirely. There are ways you can maximize your chance of getting a strong recommendation letter.

Put yourself in the letter writer’s position. If you’ve taken a class from a professor, how much you enjoyed that class or how well you did does not determine how good a letter that person can write for you if the professor doesn’t know you. Did you ever ask questions in class? Show up for office hours? Engage in conversation?

Don’t think about how much you know about them, think about how much they can know about you. After all, who could you write a better letter for? Your best friend who you’ve known for years or a casual acquaintance you’ve seen at a few social events?

In other words, make it a point to get to know a couple of professors. To the point that when you walk into their office, they will say, “Hi [Insert your name here],” instead of, “What section of the class are you in?”

08 April 2009

Shout out from former visiting mentor

Matt Garcis interview
UTPA alumnus and former REU visiting mentor Matt Garcia is featured in the newest issue of Los Arcos. And nobody paid him to say the nice shout out he gave to the REU program (and programs like it).

What advice would you give current students who are interested in pursuing a research career?

Over the summer I had the opportunity to come back to UTPA and conduct a seminar and career workshop with some biology department students in an undergraduate research program – Research Experiences for Undergraduates. This is the first step for someone interested in a career in research science, to get involved and apply for programs like this. Nothing can replace the experience of actual hands-on bench research, and you’ll know very quickly whether this is the right career path. Research is the type of position that requires self-motivation and determination. It is a roller coaster ride with extreme highs and extreme lows and being able to deal with that is the ultimate litmus test of being a scientist.

Matt Garcia, we love you!

Proctor & Gamble Research your Future in Science

Proctor and Gamble logoThe institution: Procter & Gamble headquarters, Cincinnati, Ohio

The program: Research your Future in Science Seminar will be held the first week of August 2009.

Through hands-on involvement, tours, and presentations, participants will learn what it is like to work as an R&D researcher at P&G. P&G Researchers will showcase various work areas, providing exposure to analytical labs, product formulation, products research, etc. Participant are placed in the fast-lane with the opportunity to interview for a 2010 P&G Researcher Summer Internship prior to any other intern recruiting.

All travel and accommodations will be paid by P&G for those selected to attend.

We seeking students with;

  • Proven/exhibited leadership on or off campus.

  • Technical expertise in field of study.

  • Ability to solve problems.

  • Ability to engage and work in a diverse working environment


  • Currently enrolled as a first or second year Bachelor’s or first year Associates degree student in a science.

  • Curiosity and desire to learn how Science is used in the workforce.

  • Candidates must be a U.S. citizen or national, refugee, asylee or lawful permanent resident.

Deadline: June 2009 for this year’s seminar.

More information: Go to http://www.pg.com and apply to job requisition number RND00001492.