The STATEMENT OF INTEREST should be about 500 words, single spaced. It should include:
• your research interests, which should be somewhat tailored to the individual program.
Do your homework and explore our PROJECTS page. For these applications, you want to state your interest in maybe 2 or 3 of the research areas and say why you’re interested in those areas. State which faculty have research interests that mostly closely align with yours. As an undergraduate, you are still defining your interests, so expressing flexibility and openness is encouraged when discussing them.
You have to show that you’ve developed interests, but don’t define them too narrowly. It’s better to list a couple of interests, preferably in areas that are somewhat related. We get some really strong NSURE applications which faculty reject because they say “He looks great, but I just don’t think he’d be interested in what I do.” At the same time, if you list interests that are too general, faculty might think that you aren’t focused enough.
• any relevant research, academic, or work experience
“Relevant” is the key word here: do not list experiences you are pretty sure have no relevance to the NSURE program. Coursework can be included if a course really sparked your interest in a research area. If you have research experience, you need to describe the project and describe any outcomes. You should also state what you learned. Did you learn methodology that could be applied to other research? Did you learn or use any software programs to get data or analyze it? Did you learn how to use any other instruments? If you had any specific challenges you might describe how you overcame them. If you can get a letter of recommendation from the faculty member you worked with, you should state his/her name when introducing this section. (“During the summer 2015, I conducted research on ______ under the guidance of Dr. John Smith here at CU-Boulder .”)
If you don’t have any research experience, you should state that. NSURE is an opportunity to gain research experience, so prior research isn’t necessary. However, if something has prevented you from participating in research, you should explain this. For example, if you have significant financial need and have to work regularly to pay for your education, you should definitely include this information.
• your goals and how this particular NSURE will help you achieve them.
What is it about this particular REU that interests you? How can this REU contribute to your academic/professional development?
• the qualities that you would contribute to benefit the REU program and its participants
This is something that most students fail to include, but it can be very important. The NSURE program invests a significant investment of time and money in students, and faculty want students who are interested, enthusiastic, work well in a team, and are hard working. At the very least, you can add that you will bring a strong work ethic to any research team you join. Aim to strike a balance, letting reviewers get to know you through your statement, without including an excessive amount of personal information.