Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who should apply?

Applicants are expected to be chemistry majors who are rising sophomores (often community college students), juniors, or seniors at their home institutions (although rising juniors and seniors receive highest priority).

2. Is the program open to international students (non-US citizens or permanent residents)?

No. Participants must be US citizens or permanent residents.

3. Is housing provided?

Yes. Program participants will be housed with participants in other College of Sciences summer research programs on campus in apartment-type dormitories.

4. What is the stipend for the summer?

The stipend for the 10-week ChemFAST Program is $6000.

5. What is the makeup of the application?

The online application consists of: (i) biographical information, and (ii) a brief essay that describes the applicant’s interest in science, career goals, and the expected importance of the research experience in attaining these goals. In addition, applicants submit a transcript, and two letters of recommendation. One letter of recommendation must be from a science (preferably chemistry) faculty member. Letter writers are asked to address the applicant’s interest in science, initiative, and laboratory ability. Applicants identify a primary research theme and three research faculty in which they are most interested. This helps to focus the applicant on the specific opportunities available, and helps us to place the student in an appropriate setting.

6. How many letters of recommendation are required?

As stated in the discussion of the application, two (2) letters of recommendation are required.

7. What is deadline for the application?

The deadline for receipt of applications is February 20th and recommendation letters are due by March 1.

8. How are participants selected?

In conjunction with the faculty that have indicated a willingness to host a REU participant, the FAST Program Management Team will review applications and match students. The most important factor in selecting participants is demonstrated interest and potential in research, and the potential for the program to hone these interests and skills to better equip a student for success. We find that letters of recommendation, applicants’ personal statements, and the list of preferred advisor, to be the most useful parts of the applications in making this determination. A clearly stated rationale for the choice of preferred advisor indicates that the student has done some background reading, and we look for letters of recommendation in which the recommender can attest to the personal traits of the student.

9. Is there a minimum GPA requirement?

While GPA is not a primary criterion for selection, we do expect applicants to have a minimum GPA of 2.8 on a 4.0 scale. We believe that there lies great impact in hosting students with modest GPAs (i.e., 2.8 to 3.4 on a 4.0 scale). These students might receive greater motivation through the research and professional development components, and benefit most from a letter of recommendation from their REU advisor in support of admission to graduate school.

10. I do not have any previous research experience. Am I at a disadvantage in applying?

Our recruitment efforts are focused on students at colleges without a major research effort. Given the greater potential for impact on their perspective and career prospects, the FAST Program management has also been quite selective in making offers to students who have not yet initiated research projects at their own institutions. In our summers programs, more than 70% of participants were from institutions outside of the Carnegie Foundation’s classifications of very high (VH) and high (H) research activity universities and have not had previous research experiences.

11. How diverse is the participant pool?

Every effort is made to have a cadre of participants that reflects the diversity of our applicant pool. The FAST program ensures the enrollment of substantial numbers of women (more than 60%) and students from underrepresented groups (more than 40%), including minority students, first-generation students and LGBTQIA students. The Chemistry FAST Program build on initiatives that have allowed us to attract very diverse cohorts of participants in previous programs.

12. How are students matched with faculty for research?

FAST applicants are asked to identify a primary research theme and rank three faculty of interest. They will be given their highest ranked choice as often as possible. Typically only one participant will work with a given faculty member. Only research advisors who are committed to being present on campus throughout the bulk of the summer will be allowed to host a FAST participant. Placement decisions will be made on the basis of the student’s expressed interest, academic background, prior experience, and consultations with the student and faculty mentor. This method of matching participants with projects has been in use for a number of years and has been very successful. During the period between notification and commencement of the program, the advisors will communicate further with their assigned participants to provide appropriate directions for beginning research. Advisors and their research groups prepare for the program by ordering materials in advance of the participant’s arrival so that research can begin immediately.

13. How are participants notified of decisions?

FAST applicants that are selected will receive an invitation to participate by email from the FAST Program Management team with the name of the matched faculty advisor, the stipend, and the specific programmatic logistics (travel details, move-in information, etc.). They will be asked to respond to the invitation within two weeks. Extensions will be granted for extenuating circumstances.

14. When will participants be notified of decisions?

Selected participants are usually notified by mid-March. If the students decline an invitation to participate, an alternate student will be selected from the pool and notified by the Management Team. It is anticipated that all offers will be made by the end of March and the summer cohort will be finalized by early April.

15. I was offered a summer position. How do I notify the program of my decision?

All students who receive an offer of a position in the program must let the Program Management know in writing (i.e., email) whether they accept or decline the position in the program. The response form includes a three-question survey to determine which other programs they were accepted into, why they chose to participate in Georgia Tech’s program, or why they declined the position here in favor of another summer program.

16. What type of activities take place during the 10-week summer program?

All FAST participants will attend a series of seminars on a variety of skill building and professional development topics. A two-day summer research symposium is organized during the last week of the summer program with participation of a number of REU programs. Undergraduate researchers make 10-15 minute oral presentations on the first day, and present posters on the second day. All participants are required to submit a written report on their research. During the first two-weeks of FAST, the participants spend an overnight visit at Banning Mills, a nearby corporate retreat, for professional development (discuss research projects) and team-building activities of the combined REU groups. This mix of science and social activities leads to a great deal of cohesiveness in the group. Three other structured group social activities will be also organized. Popular choices include visits to Six Flags, Dave and Busters, an Atlanta Braves game, an Atlanta United game, student-faculty cookouts, a night at the TechRec (GT recreation center with bowling, arcade games, billiards, etc.), a ropes course, and/or sporting challenges between the different REU programs on campus. These activities are funded by the College of Sciences. A very popular and integral component of the FAST program makes the most of the chemistry community in metro-Atlanta area and the broader Georgia/Tennessee area with visits to, for example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Ciba Vision, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Coca Cola’s chemistry laboratories, Colgate, Savannah River National Laboratory (SNRL), and Solvay Advanced Polymers laboratories. Each summer, 2-3 excursions take place. The School of Chemistry and Biochemistry has a number of active student organizations and affiliated centers that are actively involved in outreach within metro-Atlanta over the course of the summer. Many of these summer outreach activities are made available to FAST participants.