NSFREU Participants

2017 Participants

Rachel Boone – University of Kentucky

I’m incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in the REU program at the University of Kentucky. This program allowed me to work in research with some outstanding professors, graduate and undergraduate students as well as helped prepare me for graduate school. Outside of lab research, there were many helpful seminars and fun social activities and events. I highly recommend this REU program to anyone interested in learning about research and graduate school opportunities at the University of Kentucky.

Benjamin Cherian – Virginia Commonwealth University

This program was a unique and enriching experience. It provided a glimpse into graduate school and granted me the opportunity to collaborate and interact with many qualified and supportive advisors. Apart from lab work, I enjoyed passing time with other REU students and exploring Kentucky. Overall, the REU at the University of Kentucky was a formative experience and confirmed my decision to go to grad school.

Hannah Dvorak – University of Kentucky

I am incredibly glad I decided to stay in Lexington for the summer for the UK REU program. Every day had new problems to solve and every day I experienced new things both on campus and off with a group of undergraduate and graduate students I am glad to call friends. I felt throughout each element of the program that the faculty and graduate students involved really wanted to make this a special and valuable experience for us. The REU gave me a renewed interest in research and in my undergraduate courses; my only complaint is that it went by too quickly!

Jessica Anderson – Western Kentucky University

The 2017 NSF REU at UK was a fantastic experience for all who have even slight interested in graduate school. It is a wonderful opportunity to get real, hands-on experience in a science and engineering lab environment as well as become familiar with the documentation aspects of research. This program does a fantastic job in catering to the undergraduate students, equipping us faculty and graduate mentors who are always responsive and helpful for any questions we have or guidance we need. This was an academic environment in which we (the undergraduate students) had clear purpose and a significant degree of authority over our projects. I feel empowered with a greater understanding of research, engineering application to health, and my own career goals!

Benjamin Evers – Vanderbilt University

I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in the REU program. It was a wonderful experience: I met new friends, learned new skills, and participated in innovative research. The professors and administrative faculty at UK are especially knowledgeable and patient, and I would highly recommend this program to anyone interested in science/engineering!

Audrey Fetsko – University of Notre Dame

This REU was an amazing experience that taught me a lot about what grad school is like as well as giving me great research experience. I learned so much about how to conduct research, and the program also gave us important practice with both oral and poster presentations. What really made the program so great though was that it balanced this learning with many really fun activities. I made so many friends and memories this summer, and I truly enjoyed every part of the program.

Stephen Goodlett – University of Kentucky

This program is a wonderful way to immerse oneself in the life of a researcher. After getting to know people from around the country, and even outside of it, we were given the chance to connect with top professors at the university. From the long days in lab to Taco Tuesdays every week, this program made my summer.

Maria Victoria Klaus – University of Arkansas in Fayetteville

This summer participating in UK’s REU program was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did I get an insight on a research-based path and graduate school, but I also got to spend a lot of time with the other participants, who ultimately I became very close with. The graduate students were also very present and eager to help, along with my advisors and everyone else. This was an amazing opportunity overall.

Phillip I Johnson – University of Kentucky

Participating in the REU program at the University of Kentucky gave me the unique opportunity to experience what it would be like to be a graduate student of chemical engineering. The completion of this program has also drastically improved my research skills such as critical thinking, scientific writing, time management, and precision in the execution of laboratory procedures. I have had a great time getting to know and hanging out with all the other REU participants. I will always remember the good times we had- group dinners at The Local Taco on Tuesdays, Sunday night Game of Thrones parties at my apartment, and the strong scent of onions from the rooftop of Jewell Hall. I am incredibly grateful to all the staff at the University of Kentucky that made this fantastic summer research program possible and further confirmed my desire to attend graduate school after receiving my degree.

Karli Lipinski – University of Arkansas

My time at the University of Kentucky as a part of the NSF REU was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my undergraduate career. I was able to take a leading role in a research project with a potential impact on current clinical therapies. Not only did I enjoy working on my project, I looked forward to hearing about the projects of other students. The research experience gives clear insight into the perseverance graduate school requires when experiments give unexpected results or do not work. Activities planned by the coordinators of the program were exciting and allowed me the chance to explore Kentucky while getting to know my fellow participants. Through participation in this NSF REU program, I have made lasting friendships with people who share a similar drive to succeed and make a difference.

Lydia Millard – Kentucky State University

I am truly honored to not only be selected to participate in this program, but to leave with results. I have learned and gained so much experience that will be useful in my upcoming semester. I have met some people that will definitely keep in contact with after the program has ended. I am thankful for the REU experience, everyone should get the opportunity if possible.

Dickson D Ortiz Zayas – University of Puerto Rico

Participating in a REU Program this summer at University of Kentucky was a gratifying experience. I had the chance to meet some really cool people while working around an amazing campus. UK summer program gives you a nice balance between lab work and extracurricular activities around Lexington. It also helps you focus on working hard for your goals and shows you what grad school is really like. I enjoyed it and I won’t hesitate on doing it again!

Rebecca Palmer – University of Kentucky

The decision to participate in the University of Kentucky REU program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so thankful for the opportunity to conduct new and interesting research and to be the leader of my own project. Not only did I get to work with some amazing graduate and REU students in the lab, I also make lasting relationships with members of the rest of the program. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to get a taste of what graduate school might be like was also having the best summer of their life.

Jamie Silk –Villanova University

I am so grateful that I decided to come to Kentucky for the REU program this summer. Prior to this experience, I had never conducted research before, so I was scared coming in to this position with no experience. The REU program, however, made me feel right at home here at UK. The grad students and other REU students were always willing to help me and answer any questions I had. I have gained so much this summer, from work experience to fun memories of exploring Kentucky with new friends, and I now feel fully confident in my abilities to conduct and present grad level research. Thanks for everything, UK!

Madison Stiefbold – Carnegie Mellon University

The REU program at the University of Kentucky was a wonderful experience. The research project I worked on was very interesting and I learned a lot about different areas of research in engineering. This program was also useful in deciding on pursuing graduate school. The activities were fun, and I enjoyed spending time with students from other universities who are also interested in research. I am really thankful I had the opportunity to participate in the program.

Justin Zhong – University of Texas

The REU at the University of Kentucky introduced me to amazing people and experiences. While providing a fresh perspective on chemical engineering and materials research, I also had the fortune of exploring a new area of the country and all that it has to offer. I am extremely grateful to have been a part of this experience!

2016 Participants

Mikayla McDonald – UW-Eau Claire

Mikayla McDonald – UW-Eau Claire

The REU program is a great way to give students an inside look at what grad school is like, and I gained a lot of experience with research and collaboration in the lab. Aside from lab work, getting to know and hanging out with fellow students from all over the country as well as our awesome mentors and advisers at UK was one of the best experiences of my college career!

Eli Ruffer – Carleton College

Eli Ruffer – Carleton College

The University of Kentucky REU introduced me to amazing people and experiences. It gave me a rigorously rewarding education but left me with the freedom to explore life outside of chemical engineering, like living in a new city, making new connections, and exploring Kentucky and the surrounding states. I am extremely grateful to have had this experience!

Cameron Sptizfaden – Alma College

Cameron Sptizfaden – Alma College

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in this REU at the University of Kentucky. The program gave me the opportunity to take a leading role in a research project, and I learned so many new skills in the process. The various mentorships helped me to better understand the lifestyle of a Ph.D research student, and I am excited to continue pursuing a research-based career. The quality of research at the University of Kentucky is evident, and I found the interdisciplinary nature of this REU to be quite engaging.

Oscar Zabala – University of New Haven

Oscar Zabala – University of New Haven

The time I spent at UKY for the 2016 REU program was the best summer of my undergrad years. The experience was the perfect mixture of learning and fun activities. It was clear that all of the faculty put in a tremendous amount of effort to create a fun, supportive learning environment. The labs had just about every instrument a researcher would ever need. My work was meaningful, interesting, and challenging.

Martha Floy – Kansas State University

Martha Floy – Kansas State University

The summer research experience at the University of Kentucky was a fantastic program. I was able to work on novel research alongside world-class Professors, graduate students, and undergraduates. Besides lab work, there were professional development sessions and tons of fun social events. I would recommend this REU to anyone who is interested in learning about the opportunities in the University of Kentucky’s graduate school and more broadly within the research field.

Alison Crupper – University of Kentucky

Alison Crupper – University of Kentucky

“Participating in the UK summer REU was one of the best experiences I have had so far in my college career. Not only did I get to wake up every day and work on a research project that I loved, I met some pretty incredible people who become some of my closest friends! It’s a summer that I will never forget!”

Carmen Chen NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Carmen Chen
NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Choosing to participate in the NSF REU Program at the University of Kentucky was one of the hardest and smartest decisions of my life. I had never been to Kentucky before, or away from my family for such an extended period of time. I took a chance, and I’m glad I did. I’m thankful for all the new things I was able to try: doing research for the first time, winning an award at the poster competition, zip-lining, rock climbing, hiking, bowling, boating, and drinking an Ale-8 while watching the sun set at Jacobson Park. Now, several months after the conclusion of the program, I still regularly talk to other REU participants, and my graduate student mentor. I’m almost embarrassed by my earlier hesitance, as the summer of 2016 will forever be a treasured memory.

Sarah Coulson – University of Kentucky

Sarah Coulson – University of Kentucky

The REU this summer was a wonderful introduction to full time research that got me thinking like a scientist. I enjoyed working through the challenges of my project and learning new and interesting things that will one day contribute to society. I had so much fun living right on campus and hanging out with all of the wonderful people I met. Working hard (and getting paid) during the week and spending afternoons and weekends enjoying Kentucky was a wonderful way to spend the summer. I’ve never had so much fun while also growing in my experience and education! I walked out of the program this summer with confidence in my abilities to design and carry out effective experiments, effectively present findings to peers and colleagues, and a newly found excitement for research in grad school. That combined with the wonderful friends and connections I made this summer means I 10/10 would REU again.

Christ Rust - North Carolina State University

Christ Rust – North Carolina State University

The REU program was a great summer experience to prepare me for graduate school. I learned about a variety of topics in chemical engineering and was able to apply my knowledge working with my graduate student mentor. I also met a great group of fellow researchers that became lifelong friends. Overall, a wonderful experience for undergraduates wanting to get their hands dirty researching.

Alexander Ocken – Purdue University

Alexander Ocken – Purdue University

The hands-on and immersive experience at Kentucky’s NSF-REU not only exposed me to graduate research, but also provided me with the connections, skills, and mindset required to think as an independent scientist and engineer. I believe the program was a critical step towards pursuing a doctorate in Biomedical Engineering and has directed me to a successful career path.

Alexus Rockward – University of Kentucky

Alexus Rockward – University of Kentucky

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in this REU program. The program was a glimpse into life as a graduate student, with seminars and mentors to show the way to success in research. The opportunity to conduct extensive research, present my research at the AIChE conference, and connect with like-minded peers from across the nation has been, and will continue to be, invaluable experiences in my life.

Fox Thorpe - University of Kentucky

Fox Thorpe – University of Kentucky

The REU was an all-around great experience. The work research that I completed was meaningful and lasting. The connection that I made with UK’s faculty will last and help me in undergraduate and graduate school. The truest strength of this program, however, is the community that was formed between the students participating in the program. The friends that I made while participated in this program motivated me to work my hardest at my research everyday so I wouldn’t fall behind. They’ve inspired me to work harder in my undergraduate studies and continue to graduate school. We all motivate and support each other to attend and make the most of chemical engineering conference where we can meet up and hang out. I feel that the REU was an extremely beneficial experience. It has already helped my academic career and advanced my research. The relationships that I formed through this program are lasting and important. This is a great summer program.

Hannah Strat - University of Michigan

Hannah Strat – University of Michigan

Jonathan Murphy – Kentucky State University

Jonathan Murphy – Kentucky State University