MDI Biological Laboratory

REU Summer Fellowship FAQs

Am I eligible?

Undergraduate student participants at Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) sites must be US citizens, US nationals, or permanent residents of the United States. Students must be enrolled in a college or university, which includes community colleges. All applicants must meet these minimum academic eligibility requirements by the start of the summer program:

– One semester of college biology with laboratory
– One semester of college mathematics (AP Credit will satisfy)

What is the duration of the REU?

The REU program is 10 weeks long. The final Student Research Symposium, where all REU fellows present either a poster or a short talk, will be held in the final week of the program. All REU participants must be present during the entire 10-week duration of the program.

Do I get paid as an REU participant?

Yes and room and board are provided.

Where will I live for the summer?

All REU fellows are welcome to live on campus in one of our dormitories for the summer. Birch Hall and Spruce Hall, the two main undergraduate student residences, feature the amenities of a traditional college dormitory. Both buildings are only a short walk away from the research laboratories in which they will be working and the Dining Hall. Each dorm is co-ed and has eight double occupancy rooms and two gender-specific shared bathrooms. The residence halls have quiet hours and are substance-free. Overnight guests are not permitted, nor are pets, appliances, or incendiaries. A Residential Advisor is available to assist residents with any needs they may have.  Students are welcome to choose off-campus housing options while participating in the program; however, we strongly recommend that students enroll in the on‐campus housing option to enrich their summer experience. Funding is not provided for off-campus housing and dining.

Who will be my roommate?

Your roommate will be one of your peers. All roommates are same-gender. Roommates are assigned by the Education Office.

Where will I eat for the summer?

On-campus NSF REU fellows will be provided with a three-meal-per-day, seven-day-per-week meal plan. Off-campus students can opt for a full meal plan, a lunch-only meal plan, or no meal plan. Breakfast is self-served, lunch runs from 12:00-1:00 p.m., and dinner is served from 6:00-7:00 p.m. Special dietary needs are accommodated.

What type of student is MDI Biological Laboratory looking for?

Our REU program is highly competitive, and we are looking for self-motivated, well-rounded, and responsible students with problem solving skills who will positively represent the MDI Biological Laboratory. We are looking for students who aim for careers in biological research. Applications are especially encouraged from minorities in science and by students enrolled in primarily undergraduate institutions, including community colleges.

I am a first-year student (freshman standing). Am I eligible for NSF REU?

Yes, first-year and second-year students are absolutely eligible and encouraged to apply for an REU fellowship. Our mentors are trained in meeting students at their current academic level in order to provide a successful and positive research experience.

I have previously participated in REU. Can I apply again?

Yes, students can apply again; however, priority is given to first-time participants.

Who else will be at the MDI Biological Laboratory?

The summer community includes visiting scientists from institutions around the world, as well as post-doctoral, graduate, undergraduate, and high school students. The residential scientific staff and the summer community are highly interactive. Prominent scientists come to the laboratory to give seminars and workshops, and students are encouraged to interact with these professionals. In addition, Courses and Conferences are held on campus throughout the summer, offering informal interaction with a large range of scientific community members from around the globe.

What are the typical workload and expectations of an NSF REU participant?

As an REU participant, students work in a laboratory setting for 35-40 hours per week for 10 weeks. Students should not commit to an NSF REU program if they plan to carry a significant coursework load (>5 course credits) or holding a second part-time job. Accepting an REU position implies that students agree to be available for the entire 10‐week program. A typical workday is 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a break for lunch. Exact hours depend on experiments and seminars, and sometimes students start early or work late, depending on what is going on in the lab. Students are expected to attend and fully participate in all required extracurricular activities. Additionally, students will present either a poster or a short talk at the Summer Science Symposium and are required to submit a formal paper about their summer research project at the conclusion of the program.

As an REU participant, are there required extracurricular activities?

Yes. NSF REU students are expected to attend all scientific seminars, featuring speakers who will discuss diverse research topics in comparative regenerative biology and aging as well as other topics. Other required extracurricular activities include a scientific Communications Class (which meets for two hours per week), Responsible Conduct in Research Training, Bioethics Training, activities scheduled during our week of Innovation Thinking, a Bioinformatics Workshop, and the Summer Science Symposium. Optional extracurricular activities include Science Café, Work-in-Progress talks (short seminars by faculty or visiting scientists), recreational activities with our neighbor The Jackson Laboratory (such as Ultimate Frisbee and soccer), and weekend excursions organized by the Residential Life Team.

What are other activities I can do in my free time?

Mount Desert Island offers a plethora of summer activities. Using the free Island Explorer public transportation system, students can travel around Acadia National Park and into Bar Harbor. They will have opportunities to explore the park after hours and on the weekends, as long as there are no required laboratory or extracurricular activities going on at that time. There are many activities in the Park, from hiking mountains and cycling on the carriage roads to rock climbing, kayaking, sailing, and swimming. Bar Harbor offers even more attractions, including whale-watching excursions and shopping. On-campus, students often enjoy activities such as sandpit volleyball, ping-pong, and board or card games.

What types of research are conducted at the MDI Biological Laboratory?

Get familiar with our current research.

What is the application and selection process for the NSF REU program?

Applications for the next summer season open each fall. Students submit an online application that includes academic history, area of research interest and/or mentors with whom students wish to work (meet our faulty), several essay question responses, a résumé or CV in PDF format, unofficial transcripts in PDF format from all colleges and universities attended (fall grades must be included), and email addresses of two professors who are willing to write recommendations. The Education Office will review applications and give each REU mentor a list of students from which they are free to choose. Final mentor-mentee assignments will be made by the Director of Research Training, taking into account both student and mentor preferences and overall quality of the match.  Accepted students will receive offer letters around the end of March, unless otherwise noted, with information about next steps. Students will have 1‐2 weeks to decide whether to accept or decline NSF REU offers.

Will students who have not been selected be notified?

Yes. All applicants will be contacted whether or not they receive an offer letter.

I am waiting to hear from a job offer. Can I join REU later after hearing the results of this offer?

If students are offered an REU position, they may request a short extension, which will be granted at the discretion of the Director of Research Training. Once students accept an REU position, we expect them to fully participate in the program for the entire 10 weeks.

Is my REU stipend taxable?

It is taxable, and students should report it in their tax filings. The MDI Biological Laboratory does not withhold taxes from fellowship stipend payments. If students receive more than $600 in stipends during the calendar year, we are required by law to issue tax form 1099-NEC to them. A copy of this will also be sent to the US Internal Revenue Service. For tax-related questions about stipends, students should contact a tax advisor.

May I bring my car?

Yes. Parking is free. There are charging stations for electric cars.

How do I get to the MDI Biological Laboratory?

See: Directions to the MDI Biological Laboratory.

As an REU participant, are there any restrictions during the summer?

Yes, please note that:

  1. Students must not register for more than 5 credits of coursework during their program participation;
  2. Students must not work more than 10 hours per week outside of their research project and extracurricular duties;
  3. Students must participate fully in the laboratory setting, working with the faculty mentor’s research group on the project to which they have been assigned, and in the required extracurricular activities for the duration of the 10 weeks;
  4. Students must meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the REU Program;
  5. Failure to complete the REU summer research commitment in any way may result in removal from the program and/or the stipend being rescinded or reduced.

Questions? Contact the Education Office.