After Acceptance

Successful applicants will be notified of their acceptance by the REU program director and, at the same time, informed about the names of their assigned mentors. We will match each intern as closely as possible with a faculty member whose research suits the student’s interests.

Flight and housing arrangements will be made for you in Honolulu by our Program Assistant, who will contact you by e-mail. For out of town applicants, you will be met on arrival at Honolulu International Airport and taken to the campus housing.

Student Faculty Match-up

As noted in the application materials, each student should take part in choosing her/his research mentor. Applicants should go to the list of mentors and read about their research projects; also checkout links to the web pages for each of the possible mentors. This information should guide applicants in selecting mentors and projects that seem of greatest interest to them. Please name up to three faculty mentors in whose labs you would like to study. Based on the interests of each student and the information provided by the recommendations from their home institutions, the selection committee will match each of the selected interns to the most suitable available faculty mentor. We try to put only a single new intern into any one lab each year. Not all listed mentors are available to accept interns every year, as some are traveling during some summers.

Before You Leave Home

In order to ensure that all students can initiate their research projects quickly and proceed successfully during the 10-week program, we have designed three short introductory training modules on scientific research and its application. These modules are meant to help bridge any gaps in knowledge or to provide a refresher on previously acquired knowledge necessary to engage in the type of scientific research that interns will experience through our program. The modules cover three broad topics: (1) the scientific method, (2) the mathematics of performing unit conversions and making laboratory solutions, and (3) DNA technology. Each module runs approximately 15 minutes long, but students may take as long as needed to complete it. After studying the module, each intern must complete a short 10-question quiz and answer at least 70% of the questions correctly. The modules can be accessed by clicking on Training Modules in the column to the right. Students who have been accepted to the program and acknowledged that acceptance will receive log-in instructions for the modules with a unique username and password. A log-in is required to receive credit for completing the modules, as quiz scores will be relayed to REU administers to verify completion. The modules may be accessed as many times as necessary. However, if you fail to achieve the 70% score required to pass, you must wait at least one day and study the entire module again before retaking the quiz. We will not accept new quiz results submitted the same day. If you have any questions about this process, please email Dr. Matthew Medeiros, at

When You Get To Hawaii

Upon arrival in Hawaii, non-resident interns are housed together in the UH Manoa dormitories. On the first Monday morning of the Summer Program, the interns are provided with an orientation to the program, the campus and the mentors.  The program directors and faculty mentors will be present during the orientation. At this first meeting, the interns will be introduced to their mentors and provided with information about the locations of their mentors’ labs and how to get to them. Once in the laboratory on the first Tuesday morning, each faculty mentor will introduce the new intern to all of the others who are members of the lab group, including other undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research associates. The mentor will talk daily with the intern, and, in each lab, the intern is “rotated” through a series of research activities with the others in the lab to get a “feel” for their research, its goals and methods. This orientation gives each new intern a solid grasp of the breadth of research in her/his mentor’s lab.

Mentoring During the Summer REU Program

Once each intern has been introduced to the broader range of issues and opportunities available in their mentor’s lab via the initial orientation series, she/he will begin work with her/his chosen mentor to select an individual research project. In-lab training is the responsibility of entire lab groups, led by the faculty mentor, and includes all aspects of research, including choosing projects, developing hypotheses, selecting experimental methods, collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative information, and preparing written research reports. Each mentor will provide an orientation to their research programs and ensure all interns are properly trained in laboratory safety and general laboratory operations. Students will have the opportunity to interact with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to gain additional insight and experience. By the end of the second week, each mentor will begin discussions with the intern to select an individual research project. The Hawaii REU program emphasizes the importance of each student’s “ownership” of her/his research, and thus interns are never simply “handed a project,” but are provided with several general areas – often presented as specific research questions – appropriate to the laboratory and among which they can choose. Together, the intern and the faculty member develop the research plan to include testable hypotheses, methods, potential results (e.g., what kinds of data will emerge and how will they be analyzed?), and what finishing the project will entail.

A typical week for an intern in the program involves a Monday-morning, on-campus workshop at which students learn the variety professional development skills, including short courses in laboratory- and bio-safety; and training in research design and analysis, verbal and written presentation techniques, scientific writing, preparing a curriculum vitae, meeting presentations, and public speaking. Students will be exposed to scientists who work in university and governmental labs which emphasize environmental biology. Monday afternoons will often be used for field trips to various labs, governmental agencies and field sites to observe Hawaiian natural history and on-going field research projects. The remainder of each week will typically be spent in the lab doing research and interacting with other undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. All mentors typically have an “open door” policy in which the interns can come to them almost anytime. Most lab groups have weekly meetings in which all participants present their week’s work, including any successes and problems encountered, and the groups, as a whole, discuss them. The REU interns will become regular participants in these weekly meetings. Weekends are generally reserved for free time and planned social events to increase bonds among the interns and between the interns and their mentors. However, some interns may find it necessary to go their labs on occasional weekends to take measurements, feed their experimental animals, etc.

An important product from the summer internship is the scientific paper that each intern must prepare. This paper, written in the style of a manuscript for submission to a professional journal, will present the background for the intern’s project, the questions/hypotheses addressed, the methods used, the results, and a discussion of the results in the light of previously published research on the topic and the significance of the work. This paper must be completed, approved by the intern’s mentor, and submitted to the Project Director before the intern returns home. Receipt of a final stipend check is dependent on meeting this requirement.

End-of-Summer Symposium

Each year, we complete the summer program with a day-long symposium during which each of the summer interns gives an oral report on her/his project to all of the other interns, mentors and others from the mentors’ laboratories. The students are trained to use PowerPoint to illustrate their talks, and each one has an opportunity to answer questions from the audience at the end their talk. We have a catered lunch and finish the symposium by taking our group photo and saying goodbye and “until we meet” again to one another.