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Frequently Asked Questions

Application and Eligibility Requirements

 Am I eligible?

Eligible applicants include: 

  1. Applicants must be first year community college students (including tribal and other 2 year junior colleges)
  2. Applicants must be willing to commit for the entire 10 weeks of on campus program
  3. According to the NSF regulations, applicants must be U.S. citizens, naturalized citizens or permanent residents of the United States
  4. Underrepresented minority and first-generation college students are highly encouraged to apply

 Are there any required courses that will impact eligibility for this program?

There are no specific course requirements. However, the applicant must complete one year of community college by the beginning of the REU program and must have taken STEM courses.

 I am an undergraduate from a 4-year college. Can I apply for the program?

This research opportunity is for community/junior college or tribal colleges ONLY. Please contact Dr. Corey Cleland ( or Dr. Bisi Velayudhan ( if you have questions about your eligibility. 

 What type of student is this REU program looking for?

We are looking for students who has a passion for learning, who has the curiosity about science and an interest to participate in scientific research. This program is for community college and other 2-year junior colleges Applications are especially encouraged from under-represented minorities and first-generation college students. 

 What is the application and selection process for this REU program?

Students submit an online application that includes academic history, area of research interest and/or mentors with whom students wish to work (see research projects page), short essay question responses, unofficial transcripts in PDF format from the current college and your high school, and a reference letter from a professor from your current college. The PI and Co-PI, in collaboration with the research mentors, will review applications. Project assignments will take into account both the student and mentor preferences.  Accepted students will be notified by early April. Students must decide by April 15th whether to accept of decline REU offers.

 Will students who have not been selected be notified?

Yes. All applicants will be contacted whether or not they are accepted into the program.

 What procedures must I follow if I am selected for this program?

  • Students must not register for any other coursework during their program participation
  • Students must not work outside of their research project and extracurricular duties during the course of this program
  • Students must participate fully in the research setting, working with the faculty mentor’s research group on the project to which they have been assigned, and in the required extracurricular activities for the duration of the 10 weeks
  • Students must meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the REU Program
  • Failure to complete the REU summer research commitment in any way may result in removal from the program and/or the stipend being rescinded or reduced
General Questions

 How will the COVID-19 pandemic impact this REU program?

The 2021 program will be subject to any State and University COVID-related restrictions. All participants will be housed on campus and all research projects will be done in person, but workshops and seminars may be conducted virtually. 

 What is the time commitment for this REU program?

REU participants are required to be engaged in the project for about 40 hours per week for 10 weeks. The participants will also have preparatory and post-lab work to be completed after lab hours. If you are planning to commit to the REU program, you may not enroll in other summer courses or hold a second part-time job. Accepting an REU position implies that students agree to be available for the entire 10‐week program. A typical workday is 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a short break for lunch. Exact hours depend on experiments and seminars, and sometimes students start early or work late, depending on what is going on in the lab. Students are expected to attend and fully participate in all required extracurricular activities. Additionally, students will present either a poster or a short talk at the Summer Symposium and are required to submit a formal paper about their summer research project at the conclusion of the program.

Yes. The stipend for the summer of 2021 is $6,000. Housing, food, and travel support are also provided.

 Is my REU stipend taxable?

It may be taxable, and students should report it in their tax filings. The program does not withhold taxes from fellowship stipend payments. For tax-related questions about stipends, students should contact a tax advisor or review IRS Publication 970, “Tax Benefits for Education.” To obtain a copy of Publication 970, go to or Google: IRS Gov Publication 970. The IRS publication is updated each calendar year.

 What types of research are conducted at the JMU biology laboratories?

Please see the Research Projects page for specific information relating to the types of research participants can expect to engage in.
Program Logistics

 Where will I live for the summer?

All REU participants will be housed in JMU on campus dormitories.  The dorms are in walking distance from the laboratories and dining halls. Each dorm is co-ed and has double occupancy rooms. The residence halls have WiFi access.  A Residential Advisor is available to assist residents with any needs they may have.  

 Will I have a roomate?

Yes. Your roommate will another participant in the REU program. All roommates will be same-gender.

 What dining options are available?

The REU participants will be given a fixed allowance for food which can be used for on-campus or off-campus dining. There will also be a weekly once breakfast and brown bag lunch sponsored through the program.  Information on on-campus dining and summer hours can be found here

 Can I bring my car? Is there parking on campus?

Yes, you can bring your car. You will have to pay a small parking fee to park on campus.  There are charging stations for electric cars.

 As an REU participant, are there any required extracurricular activities?

The REU students are required to attend all weekly workshops and seminars, as well as all professional development workshops. Participation in other social activities like hiking, canoeing, and other field trips to museums and planetarium is also expected. 

 What are other activities I can do in my free time?

James Madison University is located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, a region known for the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, the Shenandoah River, farmlands and other gorgeous landscapes. The participants will have opportunities to explore the valley after hours and on the weekends, if there are no scheduled program activities at that time. Washington D. C. is only under 2 hours of drive from the campus and the participants will have an opportunity to visit the national mall.

Additional Questions

 What if I have a question that was not addressed on this page?

If you have any other questions please feel free to contact Dr. Corey Cleland ( or Dr. Bisi Velayudhan (

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