Summer research experience for undergraduates

The Department of Electrical & Biomedical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno offers a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program focusing on biosensing. In this REU program, students will be trained to design and develop new biosensing technologies to address open challenges in human health, agriculture and the environment. Students in this REU program are expected to gain significant research experience in the biosensing area.

What is biosensing?

Biosensors acquire information regarding a physiological change or the presence of various chemical or biological species in biological events. They are being developed at all physical scales, from molecular levels to macro devices to networks.

In its functionality, a biosensor is a collaboration of two indispensable components:

  • a bioreceptor that recognizes target analytes, and
  • a signal transducer that translates this recognition event into a measurable signal.

Generally, bioreceptors such as nucleic acids and antibodies govern the sensing specificity, while signal transducers determine the sensing sensitivity. They are important tools in addressing fundamental challenges related to human well-being which is defined as judging life positively and feeling good and is ensured by good health, effective agricultural production of food and green energy and safe natural environments.

Award information 

  • $6,000 stipend for 10 weeks
  • On-campus housing provided
  • Food allowance
  • Round-trip travel expenses up to $800
  • Total: approximately $9,000

Application and program information

We invite applicants from all academic institutions, including those without extensive research infrastructure to learn about this dynamic field.

This REU program has two goals. First, REU research projects converging new technologies and ideas from widely diverse fields of knowledge will be conducted to extend the frontiers of their research. Second, these projects will engage undergraduates in cutting-edge research, foster their ability to solve challenging problems and train them as part of the future biosensing workforce.

Given the breadth of science and engineering related to these projects, undergraduates will gain broad knowledge, especially in signal transducers of biosensors and also will acquire technical skills in design, development and characterization of biosensors. They will integrate multiple-disciplinary knowledge and apply their new experience with biosensors to solve specific problems in environmental monitoring, agriculture and human health care. This program will prepare them to lead further advances in the development of highly sensitive biosensors to promote human well-being.

In addition to participating in a hands-on orientation week, students will participate in workshops on how to write an application for graduate school and how to write an application for a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF). Each student will participate in a research project under the mentoring of a faculty advisor (referring to the description of the projects), prepare a written report on her/his project and present to the University’s undergraduate research symposium.

Faculty advisors in this REU program are from Electrical & Biomedical Engineering, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Chemical & Materials Engineering and the University’s Institute of Neuroscience. The research will be supported by experienced graduate students who will help mentor the REU students.

This REU Program is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, Division of Engineering Education Centers; see award abstract #2243754.

How to apply


  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is required.
  • Students must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate program.
  • Students must not have completed an undergraduate degree prior to the summer program.

Online application

Fill out the online REU application.

You must first complete the application form before your application materials will be reviewed!

  • Application opens: Dec. 1, 2023
  • Application deadline: Review of applications starts March 31, 2024; will remain open until filled.

When filling out the application, you will be asked for:

  • your transcripts,
  • your resume/CV,
  • a short personal statement (no more than 200 words) that discusses your research interest and your future plans, and
  • contact information for professional references.

Please note that due to the large number of responses, it is not possible to confirm the receipt of individual letters. Applicants are encouraged to check with their recommenders directly to confirm that the letter has been submitted.

Housing and location informatin

The University of Nevada, Reno is located near downtown Reno. There are numerous restaurants and stores on or adjacent to campus. Within a one-hour drive of Reno are Lake Tahoe; mountain biking and hiking trails, including the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail; and the Truckee River, which runs from the California state line through downtown Reno, where one of country’s top outdoor whitewater kayak parks is located. Reno enjoys an array of cultural activities, including museums, numerous theater companies, a symphony, ballet and opera. There are several major venues for concerts, sporting events and other live performances, including Lawlor Events Center on campus and the Reno Events Center, located less than a 10-minute walk from campus. Students will be housed in University campus housing, and the cost of housing and meal plan will be covered by the program.

Learn more about our campus and our region.


Electrical & Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Xiaoshan (Sean) Zhu
(775) 682-6298