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NSF REU Site: Natural History Research Experiences

NSF REU Site: Natural History Research Experiences


The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), located in Washington, D.C. hosts a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site for 10 weeks each summer, funded through NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. The REU program will support 16-18 students each summer for 10 weeks, during which students will conduct independent research and participate in a variety of professional development workshops. Students will be provided a stipend and will be housed in dorms on the nearby George Washington University campus.


Projects focus on the NMNH’s research strengths in geology, biology, and in anthropology. Students are given unparalleled access to the collections, facilities, and intellectual resources of NMNH while they develop a research project in close collaboration with a museum research scientist. Students will have a wide range of potential research mentors and research topics. Within the geosciences, scientists in the Department of Mineral Sciences focus on the origin and evolution of the Earth and Solar System with emphasis on the differentiation and chemical evolution of rocky planets and asteroids, volcanic processes and hazards, environmental/soil mineralogy, marine geology, and early solar system processes. Approaches range from microanalysis of rocks, minerals, and meteorites, to experimental petrology and volcanology, to space mission-based science. Members of the Department of Paleobiology explore the dynamics of life on Earth including the history of climatic, oceanographic and environmental change, the origin and extinction of taxa, and large-scale evolutionary patterns and processes. Scientists in the four biological science departments focus on the discovery of Earth’s biodiversity, and on understanding its evolutionary history. Approaches used range from traditional morphology and taxonomy to the latest in genomics and next-generation sequencing. Scholars in anthropology span the sub-disciplines of archaeology, ethnology, linguistics, and forensic, biological and physical anthropology of humans and their relatives.


The program is designed to support and prepare participants for entry into scientific careers by providing structured council on entering graduate school, designing, conducting and publishing research, and presenting results to the scientific community and the public. Additional professional development workshops focus on preparing students to successfully navigate a career in the natural sciences. NMNH is committed to broadening participation and enhancing diversity in natural history disciplines in order to develop an internationally competitive scientific work force for the future. In addition, the REU students will themselves serve as role models for the museum’s “Youth Engagement in Science!”

program for minority high school students from the DC-Baltimore area, and they will directly engage the museum-going public about their research – interacting with thousands of museum visitors annually.



Funding for this REU site is provide by the National Science Foundation¹s Division of Ocean Science’s (proposal number 1560088).

Contact Phone: (202) 633-1055

Contact Email: NHRE@si.edu

Opportunity Website: http://naturalhistory.si.edu/NHRE/

Apply Through: http://naturalhistory.si.edu/NHRE/apply.htm

Term: 10 weeks, May 30-August 4

Deadline: January 25