University of Delaware Chemistry and Biochemistry Department

Research Experience

Science and Engineering Leadership Initiative (SELI)


This Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site is designed to support the advancement of students with disabilities who are interested in careers in chemistry, biochemistry, or aligned fields. Recognizing that people with disabilities constitute at least 13% of the U.S. population under 45 years of age yet comprise only 1.02% of earned doctorates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, this REU program strives to provide the experiences, background, and mentoring needed to prepare students with disabilities for graduate school success. 

The REU program is open to all undergraduate students with disabilities (mobility, sensory, learning, psychological, medical, or other) who are majors in chemistry, biochemistry, or chemistry related fields. Preference will be given to students who are:

·       Juniors (i.e. one to two years away from graduation)

·       Interested in chemistry and biochemistry research projects (related disciplines will be considered.)

·       Considering graduate or professional school following graduation

·       Highly motivated to excel

The 8-week Summer REU program will be held at the University of Delaware campus in Newark, DE from July 1, 2014 to August 23, 2014. Opportunities to extend one week prior and following the REU may be available. The REU program offers the following benefits and activities;

·       Participation in state-of-the-art research projects.

·       Stipend of $3,000 for 8 week program.

·       Housing in UD dorms is covered by REU program.

·       Meal allowance of $800 at campus and community restaurants.

·       Field trip to National Aquarium in Baltimore and National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute Research Lab in Frederick, Md.

·       Receive mentoring and help for the graduate school application process.

·       Expand your personal resource network

·       Present research results at Spring 2015 American Chemical Society National Meeting in Dallas, Tx.


Research Groups

The following faculty participated in the proposal for REU funding and are willing to host summer students. However, if you are interested in working with other faculty (either within Chemistry and Biochemistry or elsewhere in the University of Delaware), we will attempt to arrange that match.

·      Karl S. Booksh, Analytical Chemistry: Chemical sensors for environmental and biomedical applications. Chemometrics. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy. IR and Raman microscopy.

·      Catherine L. Grimes, Biochemistry : Carbohydrate chemistry.  Protein expression, purification and characterization.  Mammalian Cellular Assays.  Bacterial Cell Wall Engineering.  

·      Lars Gundlach, Physical Chemistry and Physics: Dynamics of charge carriers in molecules, at hetero-interfaces, and in nano-materials. Ultrafast laser spectroscopy and microscopy.

·       John Newberg, Analytical Chemistry: Surface chemistry of solid-gas interfaces at near ambient conditions, atmospheric chemistry, photochemistry, surface spectroscopy and microscopy, soft X-ray synchrotron spectroscopy.

·       Tatyana Polenova,Physical Chemistry: Structural and Dynamics Studies of Protein Assemblies. Bioinorganic and biological chemistry of vanadium-containing haloperoxidases and complexes. Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy.

·       Joel Rosenthal, Inorganic Chemistry: Develop catalysts for carbon-neutral energy storage and conversion including systems for the sequestration and reduction of carbon dioxide to generate reactive small molecules and liquid fuels and porphyrinoids for multielectron catalysis.

·       Sharon Rozovsky, Biochemistry: Membrane-protein interactions, membrane biophysics, structure and activity of multi-protein molecular assemblies, the role of protein conformational dynamics in assisting chemical reactivity, mechanistic studies of membrane enzymes.

·       Donald Watson, Organic Chemistry: Organic synthesis, the development of new transition metal catalyzed reactions, organometallic synthesis and characterization, physical organic chemistry, catalytic methods for surface modification, computational chemistry to understand organometallic transformations

·       Mary P. Watson,Organic Chemistry: Enantioselective, transition metal catalysis. Metal-catalyzed cross coupling reactions. Organic methodology development.



The application for this program can be found here [pdf] [word].

Please return the application as soon as possible** via email to

Letters of recommendation can be emailed independently of the application.

If you need an alternative method of submitting the application or have any concerns or questions, please contact:

            Dr. Karl S. Booksh


            Office: 302-831-2561

            Cell: 302-824-5053


**The announcement of some new REU programs by NSF was delayed due to budget uncertainties from the continuing resolution and the sequester. Thus we only recently were positively(!) informed about our funding.


SELI Motivation

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduate students with disabilities are a significantly under represented demographic. While 13.4% of the US population between 18 and 44 years of age are thought to have a disability,[3] representation among STEM undergraduate and graduate students drop to 10% and 6%, respectively.[4] Ultimately, less than 2% of STEM doctorates are earned by students with disabilities. [5] In chemistry and physics, only 28 doctorates were earned by students with disabilities in 2006.[4] (note: between 2009 and 2010 the reported number of earned doctorates by students with disabilities increased after questions about disabilities were revised.[6]) Since the passage of the ADA in 1991, there has not been a statistically significant increase in the percentage of STEM doctorate earned by persons with disabilities. (Figure 1, purple) By way of comparison, STEM doctoral degrees earned by black or Hispanic STEM students have increases by more than 0.1 percentage points (Figure 1, red and blue).[7],[8],[9],[4],[10]

With these demographics as a backdrop the Science and Engineering Leadership Initiative (SELI) is envisioned. Achieving proportional advancement of persons with disabilities to leadership positions in STEM fields – jobs requiring doctorate or professional degrees - to provide a concerted effort that exposes the systemic causes of the

An increased focus on students with disabilities is needed to help achieve proportionate equity in bachelor and doctoral degrees earned by students with disabilities in STEM.


REU Program Resources