How Conducting Research and Completing Honors Classes Have Led to Paid National Science Foundation (NSF) Summer Internship Opportunities at Prestigious Colleges and Universities

Published: August 23, 2016

By: Paris Svoronos, Professor, Chemistry Department

Every year the National Science Foundation awards a number of competitive Summer REU internships to well reputed institutions that invite exceptional students to conduct supervised research over the summer. The award includes about $5,000 for an 8-10 week (June-August) period that also includes free housing and, in most cases, reimbursed transportation. Naturally juniors and seniors from senior colleges are a first choice and community college students are rarely invited. The acceptance rate is in the order of about 5-8% (10-12 awards to more than 200 applicants per institution). Successful awardees must have (in addition to their good GPA) conducted some form of research with professional presentations on record that will make  them more “marketable”. Strong recommendation letters emphasizing more than the fact that they just did well in class and heavily edited, detailed statements are the primary reason for selecting a successful candidate.

Queensborough was one of the first ever community colleges nationwide to be fortunate with its students‘ applications. Back in 2005 Rosa Rosales won the first such award and spent her summer at Cornell University. Because of her outstanding performance she was invited again in 2006- a rare feat indeed. Since that time students have been accepted (in addition to Cornell) at Stony Brook University, Binghamton University, Hope College, Georgetown University, Princeton University (twice), University of South Dakota, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Rutgers University, University of Connecticut, Vanderbilt University and Iowa State University. Last year, and for the first time, every single student of the eight Queensborough applicants  made it with several of them having earned multiple offers in various fields. These were:

  1. Yueli Chen joined the Boise State ID program on “Center of Materials Science and Sustainability”
    (currently conducts research under Dr. Paul Sideris in Chemistry)
  2. Yi (Jane) Jiang joined Vanderbilt University – Chemical Engineering. She declined Boston University‘s “Fundamental Research in Chemistry Addressing Problems in Biology” (currently conducts research under Dr. Sujun Wei in Chemistry)
  3. Daysi Proano joined Princeton University‘s Biophysics REU program (conducts research under Paris Svoronos in Chemistry). She is currently a junior at John Jay in Forensics.
  4. Weijing Gu joined University of South Dakota‘s program in Nanochemistry. He is currently an Engineering student at Stony Brook University.
  5. Landen Kwan joined Binghamton University‘s Nanochemistry REU program. He declined a Chemical Engineering program at Penn State University (has conducted research under Dr. Kee Park of the Engineering Department). He is currently an Engineering student at Stony Brook University.
  6. Francisco Caban joined Binghamton University‘s Nanochemistry REU Program (has conducted research under Dr. Sujun Wei)
  7. Hyo Jung Shin joined University of Connecticut‘s summer REU Program. She declined a subsequent offer at the University of Memphis‘ offer (conducted research under Dr. Jun Shin). She is currently a member of the Honors Program at Queens College.
  8. Silvia Salamone joined the nanochemistry REU program at the University of Connecticut. She declined similar offers by both the University of South Dakota and University of Rochester. She is currently a Biochemistry major at Stony Brook University.

This success lies in the joined effort of several faculty who have taken these students under their wings and have pushed them to the next level of a successful career.

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