Program Details

This program aims to provide undergraduates with hypothesis-based projects that investigate one or more mechanisms of evolution, promote careers in science, reinforce the connection between genetics and evolution, and highlight the accomplishments of evolutionary scholars. At the conclusion of the program, students will present their research results at a scientific colloquium.

Students are accepted to the program based on their interest in research or STEM education, letters of recommendation and academic record. Students from underrepresented groups and from academic institutions with limited research opportunities, including two-year colleges, are strongly encouraged to apply.

Apply for the program

Applicants must create an NSF ETAP account before applying.

Important Dates

  • The application deadline is March 1, 2024
  • The program start date is 06/03/2024
  • The program end date is 08/02/2024
  • Note: These dates are tentative.

Students must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • Be enrolled at either a two-year or four-year institution and majoring in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental science, microbiology, science education, or mathematics.
    • First-generation college students, members of groups underrepresented in science, education majors, non-traditional students, and post-9/11 veterans are encouraged to apply.
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.75. However, applicants with lower GPAs should explain extenuating circumstances, such as obstacles to their education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Be able to commit to the time requirements of the program. REU research internships are 9-week full-time (40 hr) research internships. REU participants will be introduced to the culture of research science by presenting at lab meetings, reading publications, analyzing experimental data, and summarizing their results for a research symposium. Occasionally, participants will need to visit the lab over the weekend or after hours.
  • Be either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holders). DACA recipients are not eligible for this program.

Please note the following:

  • Students receiving their bachelor's degree in May/June of the current academic year are not eligible for this program.
  • Students with funding from other sources such as EPSCoR, McNair, NASA, MARC, and RISE are eligible for this program, but cost sharing or matching might be required by the granting agencies.
  • Interested high school students should contact the REU Program at to determine their eligibility.

All applications are processed through the NSF ETAP website. The application is designed to be completed in one sitting. A complete application consists of:

  • A well-written, one-page (minimum) career essay detailing the applicant’s interest in research or STEM education. Applicants should specifically discuss/explain how a research internship will contribute to their post-baccalaureate career plans.
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member.
  • An unofficial transcript as proof of academic record (please note that unofficial transcripts should be attached as a PDF).

Career Essay

  • The career essay is an extremely important part of the selection criteria, and the research mentors expect a well-written composition.
  • Applicants should prepare their essays with a word processing program, and all applicants should consult the Pathways to Science recommendations on the Writing Strong Essays & Personal Statements.
  • Use Google Scholar to find recent publications of the selected mentors. Be sure to mention which publication you reviewed for each mentor. The selection committee realizes that applicants may not understand everything in a mentor's publications, but will be impressed by the additional effort.
  • If applicable, applicants should explain how their educational plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Review your essay with the faculty member that will provide your letter of recommendation.

Letter of Recommendation

  • Each participant will receive a $5,625 stipend disbursed in two payments at the beginning of July and August. The stipend is subject to federal taxes and withholding.
  • REU participants must register with the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Payment Registration System.
  • REU participants may be required to sign-up for direct deposit.

  • The REU program will make every attempt to provide round-trip airfare for every participant. Unfortunately, the REU program is not able to pay airline fees and charges for either baggage or rescheduled flights.
  • The standard mileage reimbursement regulations will be employed for participants that drive to UNLV.

  • REU participants will reside in air-conditioned double-occupancy dormitory rooms located on campus. Each suite contains two bedrooms, a small refrigerator, microwave, Internet connection, and a shared bathroom. REU students should bring twin sheets, pillowcases, a blanket, and a desk lamp.
  • There is no married student housing at UNLV, and pets are not allowed in the dorm. Cooking is prohibited in the dormitory.
  • A 100-meal dining plan will be provided to out-of-state participants.
  • The dormitory is a 15 min. walk from the research laboratories.

  • All REU students must have proof of major medical insurance. Contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers for Clark County, NV. Students without medical insurance must purchase a temporary policy. Contact the REU program director for additional information.

Program Schedule

Our program consists of two meetings per week over a period of nine weeks. We will cover a variety of event topics and modules. 

View the summer program schedule

Number of Applications Received Each Year

This REU site receives more than 100 applications and selects 10 participants each year.

Library, Recreation Center and Student Union

REU students will have full access to the Lied Library, Student Recreation and Wellness Center and Student Union.


Students driving to campus should check the Parking & Transportation Services website for the latest parking regulations and rates.


Walgreens (store no. 5311) at the northwest corner of Maryland and Flamingo is the closest pharmacy to the dormitory.

1180 E. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Medical Clinic

University Medical Clinic (UMC) will accept out-of-state medical insurance and Urgent Care is available on a walk-in basis.

UMC Spring Valley QuickCare
4180 S. Rainbow Blvd, Suite 810
Las Vegas, NV 89103

UMC Spring Valley QuickCare, 20 min drive from UNLV.

Undergraduate Projects Funded by the REU Site

Mechanisms of Evolution will focus on biological processes that drive heritable change. The inspiration for this proposal is the celebrated essay, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution by Theodosius Dobzhansky.

Professor Dobzhansky provided the following unambiguous explanation of the process, “The environment presents challenges to living species, to which the latter may respond by adaptive genetic change and the potential outcomes allowed a species to occupy a formerly empty ecological niche or to resist the environmental change if it is unfavorable.”

The Light of Evolution essay did not address specific evolutionary mechanisms, but Dobzhansky recognized their significance by stating, “The mechanisms that bring evolution about certainly need study and clarification.”

Funding for this program was provided by the National Science Foundation grant DBI REU 2244087. UNLV is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer Committed to Achieving Excellence Through Diversity.