Why we are Here (the basics)
What are the goals of the TECBio REU @ Pitt program?
The major focus of the TECBio REU @ Pitt is to train, prepare, and support the next generation of scientists, who will be among the leaders in the interdisciplinary fields of computational and systems biology and other emerging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, by offering a fun and challenging graduate-level research and training experience.
What support do students get?
All TECBio students receive a $5500 stipend (paid in monthly installments), housing in Pennsylvania Hall, reimbursement of travel expenses up to $500, a University of Pittsburgh email account, campus-wide network access, and access to computing facilities. Program and University staff are also available to assist students when needs arise.
How is the program funded?
Our program is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program (NSF DBI 1263020). Support is also given by the Department of Defense and the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Graduate Studies in the School of Medicine.
Getting Here (application info)
What are the academic backgrounds of TECBio Students?
Our students come from a variety of STEM backgrounds, in the life, physical, and computer sciences and many realms of engineering, including: biochemistry, bioengineering, bioinformatics, biology, biophysics, chemistry, computational biology, computer science, emergent properties, mathematics/applied mathematics, neuroscience, physics, and statistics. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the work, about one third or our students are double majors.
What is a common feature of successful applicants?
We are looking for highly-motivated, mature, and balanced students who are interested in an immersive research experience in computational biology. Our students come from a variety of academic, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds, but all share a passion for pursuing research in this emerging field.
Will my travel costs be paid for?
We will reimburse the costs of your travel by car (per mileage), plane, train, spaceship, bus, taxi, teleportation, etc. up to an amount of $500. The Pittsburgh airport is 20 miles from the Pitt campus and is easily accessible by bus or shuttle.
Your REU program starts towards the end of May, but my university’s final exams aren’t until June. Can I start the program late and make up the work that I missed afterwards?
Unfortunately, due to limited flexibility in scheduling the housing, symposia, and other programmatic concerns, we are unable to change the dates for our program. While it is not ideal, we will still consider students who will miss a week or less of the program. For students who may have to take finals during the end of May/early June, we can offer to proctor your final exam(s) while you are here at Pitt.
Can foreign students apply to the program?
No, unfortunately, you must be a US citizen or permanent resident of the United States (http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/). This is a policy of the NSF, who funds our program, and unfortunately, we cannot make any exceptions to this rule.
I am a senior, can I apply?
To be eligible, you must have at least one semester of full-time undergraduate study remaining after your participation in the summer program. If you’re a senior that will be continuing for another semester after the program is over, yes, you may participate.
Living Here (in da Burgh!)
Where do students stay during the program?
TECBio students are provided with double-occupancy rooms in the newly renovated Pennsylvania Hall during their time in Pittsburgh. In addition to living with others from their own cohort, students get to meet and interact with students from a number of other concurrent summer programs who also house their students in PA Hall.
What is it like to stay at Pitt?
Throw away your misconceptions of Pittsburgh as a smoggy, post-industrial city suffocating under the collapse of the steel industry. The city has re-invented itself with strong industries including healthcare, education, technology, robotics, and financial services. Pittsburgh has been named the Most Livable City by several note-worthy publications (including Places Rated Almanac, Forbes, and The Economist).
The University of Pittsburgh is located in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University and many of our major hospitals (under the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center health system) are located in Oakland. For more information on the area, check out the Only in Oakland website.
The scientific journal Nature wrote an article, “From Steel to Science”, about the progress of our city. Click the photo to read the article.
What events take place in the summer in Pittsburgh?
See the What to do in PGH section of the website!
Where can I eat on campus?
Check out onlyinoakland.org for a list of restaurants on Pitt’s campus. If you’re interested in grocery shopping, there are a few options. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Giant Eagle are just a short bus ride away.
There are two cafeterias located in the UPMC hospitals.
How can I get around the city?
The Pittsburgh Port Authority has many buses that run through Oakland. Interactive bus schedules are available online. Printed schedules are available in the Department of Parking, Transportation and Services, 3525 Forbes Avenue.
An easy guide:
Catch the 61 buses on Forbes Avenue to go to Squirrel Hill
Catch the 71 buses on Fifth Avenue (in the bus lane) to go to Shadyside
Catch any 61 or 71 on Fifth Avenue to go Downtown
Using Google Maps directions works well to get schedules. If you’re stuck, ask one of us!
I plan on driving to Pittsburgh, can I park my car on campus?
If you are accepted, contact Leah at least 2 weeks before the start of the program! You can still get one later, but you will not receive it before you arrive and will need to pay for parking in the meantime.
University of Pittsburgh Parking Services:
They offer daily parking through the summer term. Lot availability varies depending on student needs, though some students purchase commuter permits for the OC lot as well as evening student permits.
Office hours Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
I have a disability, who can I contact for more information?
If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and Disability Resources and Services as early as possible in the term.
216 William Pitt Union
DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.
A comprehensive description of the services of that office can be obtained at www.drs.pitt.edu.
Links About Pittsburgh
Look at Steeltown Anthem to see some of the cool things going on around the different neighborhoods.
Working Here (the nuts and bolts of TECBio)
What is the schedule of events for the program?
Students will be matched with their mentors prior to the start of the program, so their research can begin when they arrive. Introductory classes and workshop sessions will be held in the mornings for roughly the first two weeks. Students will write a research proposal to help plan and organize their summer projects. On a weekly basis, students will attend a research and career seminar series and a journal club, both tailored for the TECBio program. Various social events and tours will be sprinkled in throughout the program. At the end of the program, students will present their work orally in a departmental symposium and in poster form at a Pittsburgh-wide summer research symposium.
How will my mentor be assigned?
Students will have the option to select their top choice(s) for research mentors or research fields in the application form. Students are assigned within one of their choices of research fields, and are often matched with one of their top choices of mentors, however, we cannot guarantee mentor-matching.
How many mentors will I have to choose from?
We have over 35 mentors from various departments at the University of Pittsburgh with a few from some of our partner institutions: Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center – all of which are within a 1.5 mile radius.
What are the directors’ and mentors’ expectations of TECBio REU students?
We expect our students to be motivated to tackle their research questions, while maintaining a balance between their other programmatic responsibilities and their explorations of Pittsburgh.
What can I expect from my TECBio experience?
TECBio students will work on their own primary research problem in a cutting-edge field of science by leading scientists in the field. Didactic components of the program will introduce students to the basic tenets and tools used in computational biology. Scientific writing and presenting, graduate school preparation, ethics training, and other professional development topics also play a central role in our program. At the completion of the program, students will have a first-hand appreciation of the rigors of graduate school, for which they will be well prepared to tackle.
Will I have a chance to serve as a mentor?
During the summer, our department also hosts a summer academy for high school scholars, called DiSCoBio (Drug Discovery, Systems and Computational Biology). TECBio students are often viewed as role models by these scholars. If students desire, they will have the opportunity to serve as advisees for our high school scholars as they make their preparations for the starts of their undergraduate careers.
After Here (riding off in the scientific sunset)
What can I expect for after the program?
Team TECBio is committed to providing professional development support for our students even after they complete their summer program. We and your mentors will provide letters of recommendation and feedback on personal statements for applications. We maintain active ties with our program alumni and are committed to their future successes
We cannot give any tax advice, but here is some information…
According to NSF’s website (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2013/nsf13542/nsf13542.htm):
“The stipend that is paid to REU student participants is not a salary or wage for work performed. It is a traineeship, a form of student aid (like a scholarship or fellowship) provided to support a student’s education/training in a STEM field. In this case, the student’s training consists of closely mentored independent research. For administrative convenience, organizations may choose to issue payments to REU students using their normal payroll system. The funds received by students may be taxable income under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and may also be subject to state or local taxes. Please consult the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for additional information. Students might find the IRS’s “Tax Information for Students” Website (http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Students/Student’s-Page—Higher-Education) to be particularly helpful.”
Another useful link: https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc421.html
Who should I contact for more information?
Please feel free to contact any member of Team TECBio for answers to any of your questions about our program.