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Summer Research

Exoskeleton researchVanderbilt offers research opportunities to both Vanderbilt and other institution's undergraduate students. These programs, whether campus-wide like the Vanderbilt Summer Research Program (VUSRP) or department-specific like the Physics Department's Research Experience for Undergraduates (PA-REU) have four primary goals:

  • To provide a substantive research experience that will allow each student to actively participate in a research project including reading the relevant literature, developing ideas, and communicating findings to colleagues.
  • To provide enrichment seminars that will help construct a strong foundation on which to build science, social science, and humanistic careers.
  • To create opportunities for student-faculty interaction beyond the classroom and facilitate mentor relationships for students who wish to pursue research and academic careers.
  • To provide guidance and preparation for application to graduate schools.

Some Vanderbilt research programs that should be of particular interest to underrepresented students include:

NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduate

Our Physics and Astronomy department, the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology (VICB) and the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (ViNSE) offer Research Experiences For Undergraduates (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation. These programs provide opportunities for visiting students to work closely with faculty, post-doctoral student, and our graduate students on forefront research projects in those fields. The Physics & Astronomy program offers research opportunities in everything from astrophysics to particle and high-energy nuclear physics. The Biomedical Engineering program targets students majoring in a number of disciplines including Science Education, Biological Sciences, Computer Science, Graphics Arts, Physical Sciences, Engineering or Learning Sciences. VICB targets junior and senior chemistry, biochemistry and biology majors who have high potential to succeed in chemical biology research areas.  The coordinators for all these programs are particularly interested in diversifying their fields and strongly encourage applications for underrepresented racial minorities and women.

Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program (VUSRP)

The  Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program (VUSRP) offers a ten-week summer research experience for up to 50 Vanderbilt undergraduates who express a serious interest in pursuing a Ph.D. and following a career in college or university teaching and research. The purpose of the program is to motivate and prepare students to make competitive applications to research doctoral programs, with a view toward completing the Ph.D. and going on to teach and conduct original research. Each student receives a $4000 stipend to support their living in Nashville during the summer months. A poster session, open to the Vanderbilt community, is held in the Fall featuring the work done by VUSRP participants.

The Leadership Alliance Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP)

Vanderbilt is a member of The Leadership Alliance, a consortium of 31 institutions of higher learning dedicated to increasing diversity in doctoral programs and on college and university faculties. The Alliance collaborates in a number of programs, from undergraduate research to national symposia, to increase the participation of historically underrepresented groups in higher education. Vanderbilt is a participant in the Alliance's Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP) and maintains a summer research program for undergraduates who are racial/ethnic minorities, women in the sciences and engineering majors, or who are from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Students accepted for Vanderbilt's Leadership Alliance group will work with a Vanderbilt faculty member, as a research assistant in either a laboratory project or a research project appropriate to a humanities or social science field.  Access the SR-EIP application here.

Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy (VSSA)

The Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy (VSSA) offers biomedical research opportunities to undergraduates who want to pursue a career in the biomedical sciences. Although each of the participating programs operates independently, the Academy unites students and provides them with opportunities for academic and social interaction. Participation in the Academy is a valuable learning experience that enhances a student's skills and makes her or him more competitive for acceptance to frontline graduate programs. While each of the programs actively recruits underrepresented students, the Vascular Biology Program targets minority students and operates in conjunction with the Meharry Medical College. More information about the Academy programs can be found at the VSSA Website.