General Information

Are you ready to explore materials science in the laboratory?  The faculty at Clemson University believe that undergraduates can and do make important contributions to the field of materials science through their research.  We also know that working in a research laboratory can be a transformative experience and help current undergraduates decide if attending graduate school is the right option for them.

This program (Interfaces and Surfaces) accepts around ten students every summer to both fabricate and study new materials and material systems.  During our ten week program, participants will conduct research, practice a range of professional skills, reflect on how to achieve their career goals and experience working on diverse teams.  We are extremely proud of our faculty mentors.  These faculty mentors were selected since each one has a track record of successfully guiding undergraduate research and helping students in their lab achieve their professional goals.  These mentors are from a range of Clemson University departments including Materials Science & Engineering, Bioengineering, Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact the program director- Dr. Marian (Molly) Kennedy (mskenne @

General layout of each year’s REU program is laid out below.  Click on the toggle boxes to see activities.

Week 0 (Prior to arrival)

Accepted applicants complete necessary paperwork with the program director (Dr. Marian Kennedy) and manager (Ms. Heather Cox).  Paperwork will include:

  • Housing liability release form
  • Photography release form
  • Phone book entry form
  • Travel arrangements
  • Emergency contact form

We will also invite you to join us on Facebook to meet your peers!

Week 1 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • Keeping laboratory notebooks
  • Giving research talks- Guide to Setting up your first presentation
  • Radiation Safety Training (REU Students with Projects Involving Radiation)
  • Ethics of handling data
  • Best practices for reading research papers


  • Responsible conduct of research online training
  • Hazardous waste management
  • Chemical safety
  • Biopathogens safety

Social Activities:

  • Campus scavenger hunt
  • Lunch with faculty mentors


  • Travel reimbursement form
  • Laboratory key checkout
  • Computer IDs
  • TigerOne card issue
  • Surveys

Week 2 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • Resumes, LinkedIn and Facebook


  • All participants give presentation on their research project (6 slides, 5 min. each)

Social Activities:

  • Visit to the Clemson University Planetarium- Show on satellites

Week 3 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • Communicating Science to K-12 Students- YMCA Camp Outreach Activity
  • SAXS Characterization Talk
  • Communicating Science to Congress and the General Public


  • Field Trip to South Carolina SAXS Collaborative
  • Diversity dialog

Social Activities:

  • Optional trip- Zip Lining Trip at ‘The Gorge’ (paid for individually by participants)

Week 4 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • Research Breakfast Talks: Dr. Jacobsohn and Dr. Schiller (20 min.)
  • Intersection of Biology and Materials- Research Perspective

Social Activities:

  • Hiking trip

Week 5 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • Using a Ph.D. or M.S. Degree in Industry
  • How to Apply to Graduate School (Clemson Graduate School ‘101’ course)


  • Participants will teach a group of children at YMCA camp to try outreach

Social Activities:

  •  Visit to see downtown Greenville, SC

Week 6 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • Discussion Group for ‘Uranium’ with Dr. Lindsay Shuller-Nickels
  • Transitioning from Research to Entrepreneurship

Week 7 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • How to make a great poster
  • Ethical view on laboratory notebooks (Dr. Julia Frugoli)

Week 8 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • Identifying Graduate Schools- Mentors, what you want to do.
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GFRP)
  • Financial Resources for Graduate School

Social Activities:

  • Lake House Potluck hosted by Dr. Corbin

Week 9 (activities in addition to laboratory research)

Seminars and Workshops:

  • NSF GFRP Follow Up- Group Reflection Questions


  • Participants present their posters!  (Watt Innovation Center, Lobby)
  • Draft personal statement and future research statement that could be used to apply for GFRP

Week 10 (activities in addition to laboratory research)


  • Completing closing interviews with the evaluator.
  • Turn in final reports, copies of posters, laboratory notebooks, etc.

Social Activities:

  • Social

After leaving the program....

  • Submit your travel reimbursement form for the trip home.
  • Participants will continue to work with their faculty mentors on the dissemination of their research (papers and conference presentations).
  • Stay in touch with Dr. Kennedy and Ms. Cox!  We can help you with your graduate school applications, etc.

Application cycle

  • Students submit all application materials through online portal.
  • Dr. Kennedy then assigns a faculty cohort to review the applications and try to match potential students to each of the research projects.
  • Selected students are contacted for follow up interviews.
  • Offer letters are sent out beginning in mid. February to late March.   We expect a decision within one week of offers being received.

Our Support

Financial support for this program came from the National Science Foundation  Division of Materials Research (Award number: 1460863) for the 2015-2017 summers.

Recent achievements by past participants. Click on the toggle to read about their presentations and publications.

Carley Tysinger (REU 2015) presenting her work at ACS!

Carlie is presenting her work at the 2016 ACS meeting!

Abstract below.

Characterization of Nanofoam Collapse in Response to Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds

  1. Tysinger1, N. Borodinov2, B. Zdyrko2, A.P. Soliani2, Y. Galabura2, J. Giammarco2, I. Luzinov2

1Department of Chemistry, Catawba College, 28144

2School of Materials Science and Engineering, Clemson University, 29634

Nanofoams are porous grafted polymer film layers that exhibit the performance of shape-memory polymer materials (SMPs). The surface of silicon wafers were used as a substrate and poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (PGMA) was employed as an anchoring polymer layer via dip coating followed by the sequential attachment of the polymers polystyrene (PS) and poly(2-vinyl pyridine) (P2VP) respectively, leading to the formation of a three component polymer nanofoam. The nanofoam was obtained by freeze-drying where polymer films are swollen in chloroform and cooled under vacuum pressure (20-50 mTorr) to sublimate the solvent. The thickness of the nanofoam layers were analyzed using refractive index values collected from a home-built scanning reflectometer before and after nanofoam exposure to one of three volatile organic compounds, including toluene, methanol and acetone, for 40 minutes in a controlled environment. The initial results showed a statistically significant correlation between collapse upon exposure to a particular solvent and its composition. However, external factors that influence collapse of nanofoam with given composition in a specified solvent are yet to be identified. Results of nanofoam collapse upon specific exposure events will lead to future use in industry as sensors to detect chemical warfare agents. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation’s REU program under grant number 1460863, the Clemson University Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (projects HDTRA1-10-1-0101 and HDTRA1-13-1-0001).

Congratulations to Patrick Ayrle (2015 REU)- his work is being presented at the 2016 Membrane Technology Conference

Patrick’s work is being presented this February!


Partlan, E.; Amaral, P.; Li, M.; Ayerle, P.; Ladner, D.A. “Membrane Filtration of Colloidal Activated Carbon: Considerations for Optimization of Head Loss Reduction and Small Molecule Adsorption.” Membrane Technology Conference and Exposition, San Antonio, TX, February 2016.

Leslie Sanders (REU 2015) presented work at the 2015 Fiber Society Conference

Leslie Sanders presented a poster entitled: ‘Mechanical Characterization of Lepidoptera Proboscises Through Tensile Testing’ at the  Fiber Society 2015 Fall Meeting and Technical Conference on October 28–30, at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

Well done!