UVA's NSF REU in Multi-Scale Systems Bioengineering and Biomedical Data Sciences

Each summer, UVA trains undergraduates from a variety of STEM backgrounds in the skills, confidence, and mentorship necessary for successful careers in the exciting field of systems bioengineering.

About UVA's REU for Multi-Scale Systems Bioengineering

The objective of the program is to train undergraduates from a variety of STEM backgrounds and provide them with the skills, confidence, and mentorship necessary for successful careers in the exciting field of systems bioengineering. Students will be matched with world-class faculty mentors for a 10-week research project, culminating in a paper and public symposium at the end of the summer.

List of Mentors

Summer 2021 Contingency Plan

Should we not be able to offer a fully in-person REU this summer, is there a contingency plan? Yes! The Summer 2021 Covid Contingency plan is to offer either a hybrid REU (virtual for a few weeks, transitioning to in-person) or a fully virtual REU (similar to what we offered last summer).  A lot will depend on the evolving situation. We plan to make offers, before knowing if the program will be in-person, hybrid or fully virtual.  We will begin making offers as soon as February 15, 2021 (our deadline for priority consideration).  We're almost certain NOT to know what will be possible by that point.

Research Immersion

All students will participate in collaborative, hands-on, and closely mentored research ranging in scale from molecular dynamics and bioinformatics to subcellular networks to whole-cell models to tissue, organ, and population-level models. Each project will have strong clinical relevance and immersion in a combination of experimentation and computational analyses.

Boot Camp

A series of "boot-camp" workshops in systems modeling and analysis gives participants the foundational knowledge needed to thrive in the program.

Professional Development

Weekly workshops and seminars will cover topics including biomedical research ethics, communication skills, career advising, scientific communication, and professional development, all of which are necessary to be productive in advanced graduate study and be successfully employed in the modern biotechnology industry.

Tight-Knit Lab Culture

Students in the REU, regardless of mentor, will be fully integrated into their respective labs: listed on lab websites, invited to lab lunches and social events, and expected to attend and participate in lab meetings and journal clubs.

BMES Fall Meeting

Participants will submit their work to the REU track at the national Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) conference and will be earn a travel award to attend the conference, if their poster or talk is selected.


We're invested in our students' success and provide REU alumni with ongoing mentorship after they complete the program.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Your dorm suite for the summer is a 5-minute walk to the UVA Academical Village, the Medical Center, the Aquatic Fitness Center, the Corner, and a free ride to the Downtown Mall. There's music, mountains, localvore food and drink, Monticello and Montpelier, and the Shenandoah National Park. Running and cycling groups are welcoming. Our REU students are active on the weekends! 

Why ’Hoos Love to Call Charlottesville Home

"The cultural scene here is way bigger than something a town of this size should have."

Ramon Castellanos, REU Class of 2018

"I fell in love with the institution and the City of Charlottesville. The energy that I felt surrounding almost all the principal investigators towards research was really contagious. I got the impression that there is a fantastic environment encircling the BME department, the school of medicine and the health system, which is fundamental for any successful summer research program. Working every day in the lab for the entire summer exposed me the down time of investigation, the challenges and feelings of incompetence that all investigators feel at some point that leads to growth. It also showed me how to move forward, look for alternative view points and a new focus to solve a problem. "

Ramon Castellanos, REU Class of 2018 "Agent Based Model of Intramuscular Fat Infiltration"
  • Eligibility and Application (Summer 2021)

    In order to participate in the Summer 2021 REU Program, applicants must be:

    • U.S. citizens or permanent residents
    • Full-time undergraduate students returning Fall 2021
    • Priority consideration will be given to rising seniors (graduating by summer 2022)
    • Available for the duration of the 10-week program (May 31 - August 7)


    Additional Information

    Students must be enrolled in a science, mathematics, or engineering-based curriculum that includes introductory biology, chemistry, and calculus are especially.  Rising seniors are generally given priority consideration, yet as our Alumni section shows, juniors and sophomores also are very competitive in securing spots in our REU!  Experience in programming is recommended, but not required.  Women, underrepresented minorities, and military veterans are especially encouraged to apply.

    Applicants must complete an online application form that includes: basic information about you, a resume, an unofficial transcript, some short essays that address the motivation for the program and what you hope to get out of the experience, and two references (preferably academic or supervisory, rather than “community” letters), all to be submitted electronically. We use the NSF’s REU ETAP application. This is a common application portal for many NSF-sponsored REU programs across the country.

    The website will ask you to create a user account. When your account is created, follow the steps provided on the website to complete the common application. Make sure to select UVA's "Multi-Scale Systems Bioengineering" when selecting the Site to which you want to apply. 


    Dates and Deadlines

    • Priority review for applications will begin on February 15, 2021.
    • The deadline for completed applications (including support letters) is midnight on March 1, 2021
    • The program dates are May 31 - August 7, 2021.


    Further Detail

    • $6000 stipend for 10-week research program.
    • Reimbursement of travel costs up to $400.
    • Free on-campus housing and dining plan.
    • Introductory “boot camp” short course on systems bioengineering modeling basics. Weekly workshops on ethics and professional development.
    • Presentation at our Summer Research Symposium. Many students earn an additional travel award to present at the fall BMES annual meeting


    Also see our FAQs below.  If you have any questions, please contact:

    Hannah Moore
    Department of Biomedical Engineering
    University of Virginia
    Box 800759, Health System
    Charlottesville, VA 22908

    The UVA Multi-Scale Systems Bioengineering REU is funded by NSF Grant #1560282

    NSF REU etap Application
  • Letters of Support

    The NSF Education and Training Application Portal (ETAP) system will automatically prompt the letter writers you designate, once you submit your application. As a courtesy, please let your letter writers know that you have applied and should expect this prompt. We strongly recommend that your letters should be from a faculty member, research advisor, or other professional mentor within your discipline who can address your potential, abilities, and motivation for engaging in research. If you have already applied to other REUs, your letters (and your transcripts) should still be in the system.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    2021 Program FAQs

    Is there a 2021 contingency plan, given COVID-19? Yes, the plan is to offer either a hybrid REU (virtual for a few weeks, transitioning to in-person) or a fully virtual REU (similar to what we offered last summer).  A lot will depend on the evolving situation with UVA Conferences (who handles summer housing), and they will be guided in due time by the UVA Provost Office.

    Will you make offers, before knowing if the program will be in-person, hybrid or fully virtual?  Yes. We will begin making offers as soon as February 15, 2021 (our deadline for priority consideration).  We're almost certain not to have a decision by that time.

    Are UVA students encouraged to apply?  UVA students are not discouraged to apply.  As a matter of fact, last Summer 2020, when our program was 100% virtual, we even had supplemental funds from non-NSF sources just for UVA students.  That said, generally, REU Program Directors are eager to offer opportunities to students outside their home institutions.  Why? Because these students' schools may not be major research institutions or they may not have systems bioengineering and biomedical data science as a research thrust.

    Am I matched to a specific lab or mentor when I get my offer?  Normally, no, not yet.  Dr. Allen usually matches students to labs once he has the entire summer cohort assembled.  At that point, he is able to balance students' stated interests/prior experiences and goals with labs and mentors.

  • Other REUs at UVA that May Interest You

    Multi-Scale Systems Bioengineering REU Mentors may also be mentors for these summer research programs at UVA.


    The Summer Research Internship Program provides an outstanding environment to learn first hand about a career in biomedical research while preparing to succeed in gaining admission to graduate school. Many of our former SRIP participants have matriculated into M.D./Ph.D. and Ph.D. programs, including at UVA. The program hosts approximately 35 students each year. The program targets, but is not limited to, racially and ethnically diverse students in their junior and senior years. 

    NIH Diabetes Summer Research Program (UVA Students Encouraged to Apply)

    The objectives of the program are to train the next generation of scientists and engineers to build an interdisciplinary research pipeline in the field of diabetes research and treatment through participating in challenging diabetes- related projects supervised by research mentors from UVA. It includes seminar- based lectures, individual student-tailored research projects, and clinical immersion. Specific emphasis is given to students from traditionally underrepresented racial, gender, and ethnic groups in the STEM and biomedical research fields.  Each year the program hosts around 12 students.