The NCI-SW offers multi-week summer research programs at Arizona State University (ASU) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) for undergraduates (REU) as well as K-12 and community college STEM teachers (RET). Participants selected for these programs gain new skills and valuable experiences working with nationally recognized scholars in micro- and nanotechnology research and leaders in science education. Program highlights from previous summers are described below.
Application procedures for the 2023 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) are now closed.
Historical information about the 2023 Research Experiences for Undergraduates program can be found here.
Historical information about the 2023 Research Experiences for Teachers program can be found here.
2022 Research Experiences for Undergraduates
National Science Foundation supports Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) to expand diverse student participation in research. Participants partner with individual investigators, groups, centers, and national facilities. NCI-Southwest hosts REU within the broad umbrella of "nanotechnology" and projects studying solid state physics and chemistry, materials science, electronic devices and materials, and biology/biomedical engineering.
In the summer of 2022, NCI-Southwest's partner ¡MIRA! hosted four REU students at Northern Arizona University. NCI-Southwest continues to recruit and retain a diverse population for its programs. The participants included two students identifying as female, one student identifying as male, and one student preferring not to identify their gender. Three students previously attended community colleges, one graduating from Pima Community College, one a former Maricopa Community College attendee, and the third a former Coconino Community College student. The cohort comprised students identifying as Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic, and White/Caucasian. REU student projects for the 9-week program included: Simulating open quantum dynamics through quantum algorithms; Soft nanomaterial carriers: eliminating burst release of their cargo; Exciton Hamiltonian of polymer chlorosome nanocomposites; and Using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to detect breast cancer.
2021 Research Experiences for Undergraduates
After a hiatus in 2020 due to the onset of the COVID pandemic, the NCI-SW again hosted in-person REU activities in 2021 in addition to virtual participation. The NCI-SW selected five students from a group of well qualified applicants for its 2021 REU program that was carried out concurrently at ASU and NAU. The participants included three female students, with two of them coming from regional community colleges. The cohort was comprised of an African American, an Asian, and a Hispanic, as well as two Caucasians. This continues the NCI-SW’s tradition to recruit and retain a diverse population for its programs.
The students’ research projects were equally diverse. They included: (1) Characterizing Airborne Nanoparticles to Study Neurotoxic Risk; (2) Development of Photoactive Silk Films for Laser Activated Tissue Sealing; (3) Tuning Energy Transfer in Polymer-Alginate Composites; (4) Using Silver Nanowires to Differentiate E. Coli and Klebsiella Bacteria for Biotesting; and (5) Quantum Simulation for Modeling of Bio-Photonic Quantum Materials. And at the conclusion of the program, all the students showcased their work at the NNCI REU Convocation, in the form of both oral and poster presentations.
2019 Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Two students were selected for the 2019 REU program. Both were from Phoenix College, one of the 10 schools within the Maricopa Community Colleges system. They worked on projects in two of the research centers within the NCI-SW.
One studied epitopes of two tropical infectious diseases using data obtained from high-throughput peptide microarrays. This work aims to improve disease detection and the eventual development of preventive vaccines. The other worked on a project related to microplastics, which are becoming increasingly prevalent as environmental pollutants. This involved using a variety of analytical methods to evaluate the impact of chemical additives in oxo-biodegradable plastics on the formation of microplastics. Both students collected valuable data to provide some preliminary conclusions, which they presented at the NNCI REU Convocation at Cornell University, NY.
2018 Research Experiences for Undergraduates
The NCI-SW selected four students from a group of well qualified applicants for its 2018 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. The participants were all from regional community colleges, and included one Hispanic and two female students. This continues the NCI-SW’s efforts to recruit and retain a diverse population for its programs.
These REU students paired up to form two teams to research different device applications at the micro- and nanoscale. One project studied how a nanoscale transistor can be used as an on-chip temperature sensor to monitor device self-heating and the effect on performance. The other project studied the fabrication of a nanoscale silicon membrane that can provide a platform to build an electron diffraction grating for use in a novel compact source of hard x-rays. Upon the completion of their projects, the students presented their results in poster sessions at the NNCI REU Convocation in Charlotte, NC.
2018 Research Experiences for Teachers
Two instructors from local community colleges (Phoenix College and South Mountain College) participated in NCI-SW's Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program. They were introduced to cleanroom operation and safety procedures in the NanoFab as well as the use of characterization methods such as scanning electron microscopy.
The experience allowed them to develop methods and curriculum that can be used to teach the subject of Scaling as it pertains to micro- and nanotechnologies at their home institutions.
2017 Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Four students participated in the NCI-SW Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program during the summer of 2017. These participants included two veterans and one female, and all were from regional community colleges. They were selected from a group of well qualified applicants with the aim of addressing one of the NCI-SW’s goals to recruit and retain a diverse population.
These REU students paired up to form two teams to investigate different micro- and nanoscale techniques to improve the performance of silicon solar cells. These were collaborative projects between ASU’s NanoFab and the Solar Power Lab. One project aims to create small pyramidal features on the cell surface, while the other studied the fabrication of arrays of nanoscale pillars. Upon the completion of their projects, the students presented their results in poster sessions at the NNCI REU Convocation in Atlanta, GA and the Arizona Student Energy Conference in Tempe, AZ.
2017 Research Experiences for Teachers
In 2017, NCI-SW’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program hosted a 5th grade teacher from St. John Bosco School located in Phoenix, AZ. She teamed up with other participants in a concurrent RET program conducted by the Engineering Research Center for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies to collaboratively develop methods, hands-on activities, and curriculum that can be used to teach solar cell and related technologies back at their home institutions.
2016 Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Five students participated in the NCI-SW Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program during the summer of 2016. They were selected from a group of well qualified applicants with the aim of addressing one of the NCI-SW’s goals to recruit and retain a diverse population.
Three of the five students are Native Americans from the Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, NM. They worked as a team on a collaborative project between the Solar Power Lab and the ASU NanoFab to investigate processing techniques to improve the performance of silicon solar cells. Upon the completion of their project, they presented their results in a poster session at the Workshop on Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells and Modules: Materials and Processes held in Vail, CO.
The other two are female students from Scottsdale Community College, AZ. They worked on a project that explored techniques to build low-cost biosensors for disease detection. This effort required an interdisciplinary approach that utilized different aspects of engineering and biochemistry. The team’s findings provided valuable information for this feasibility study.
2016 Research Experiences for Teachers
In 2016, there was only one participant in NCI-SW’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program. He is a faculty member from Scottsdale Community College, the same school for 2 of the REU students. He also worked on a biotechnology related project that investigated the use of 3-D printing, in close proximity to those students.
This cohort approach is viewed as a potentially more effective way of bringing a research culture and new curriculum topics back to the participants’ home institutions.