Sanford Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) and NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

National Science FoundationSanford Research offers the SPUR and National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) Site at Sanford Research and Augustana College programs which both provide opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in laboratory research. These dynamic 10-week programs allow students to apply their classroom knowledge by working in a laboratory under the supervision of a Sanford Research or Augustana College principal investigator.


Student Experience

Participants gain valuable experience by attending weekly workshops geared towards career preparation, such as ethics in scientific research, career opportunities, and how to apply to and interview for graduate school. Students may also opt to participate in weekly GRE preparatory workshop that is offered as part of the program. Trainees prepare and present a short oral presentation based on their proposed project at the beginning of the program.

“It made it more clear that I want to go to graduate school and keep conducting research." - 2014 REU Student 

“It has showed me that I can make significant contributions to biomedical understanding and made me want to integrate research into my future career.” - 2014 SPUR Student 

“This summer has confirmed that I want a career in research, and that I will want to attend graduate school to better my education. I greatly enjoyed doing research and learned a lot about further schooling.” - 2013 REU Student 

At the end of the summer, students share their research project results at a poster symposium. Students are encouraged to present their findings at national meetings, provided the funding is available, and co-authorship on peer-reviewed publications resulting from their research is possible. Should the Sanford principal investigator consent, research could continue into the academic year.

Student Selection

Two participatory tracks are offered to reach both Augustana and non-Augustana students. The SPUR program is open to Augustana College students only, whereas the NSF REU Site program at Sanford Research and Augustana College is open to other students who normally might not be exposed to such an opportunity.

Students who attend institutions that do not have research opportunities and/or students from groups that are under-represented in the biological sciences are encouraged to apply for the NSF REU program. These groups include students with disabilities, students from certain racial/ethnic groups, first-generation college students, and individuals from socioeconomically backgrounds that are underrepresented in careers in science.

The racial/ethnic groups that are significantly underrepresented at advanced levels of science and engineering in the U.S. are Native Americans (including American Indians and Alaskan Natives), African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Pacific Islanders. In 2011, we received the Patriotic Employer Award from the South Dakota National Guard. Applications from Veterans and members of the armed services will receive extra consideration.

 Sanford Research - SPUR Interns 2012 

Applicant Requirements

Matriculated students:

  1. In their freshman, sophomore or junior year at the time of application
  2. Majoring in one of the biological or chemical sciences
  3. Interested in exploring careers in research, such as the possibility of attaining a Ph.D degree in the biological or chemical sciences
  4. REU participants must be United States citizens

Applicants will be evaluated based upon:

  1. Enthusiasm for scientific research
  2. Two letters of reference
  3. Transcripts from their undergraduate institution

Program Details

  • The program schedule is 10 weeks: June 1 - August 7, 2015. Participants must commit to working the entire 10 weeks, with the exception of the July 4th holiday. 

  • Participants will work under the direct supervision of a participating Sanford or Augustana mentor or post-doctoral research associate. Participants choose their research mentor

  • At the end of the second week, participants will prepare a 10-minute seminar describing their project hypothesis and aim(s), which will be developed through discussions with their mentor. The seminar will be presented to the other summer participants, the program coordinator, and their mentor.

  • All participants will be responsible for constructing a poster outlining their research at the conclusion of the program. Trainees will present their posters at a final formal symposium.

  • All participants will participate in weekly research/educational seminars and presentations, including seminars given by Sanford researchers. The program coordinator will host two forums where ethics in biological research and the graduate school application process will be discussed.

  • Luncheons, group trips to area attractions, and various social activities are organized for the chance to interact with other participants. Students tend to form life-long relationships through the program.

  • Participants must participate in all activities and seminars unless authorized by the program coordinator.

  • A stipend of $500 per week will be provided.

  • Participants enjoy living free of charge in a common dormitory on the Augustana campus. 

The Application Process

Complete all the information for the application that is on this website. Save the application for your records and click on the submit button. An e-mail will be sent to you confirming receipt of your application. If you do not receive this e-mail or have other problems, please contact REU or (605) 312-6590.

IMPORTANT: In addition, please send a copy of your official transcripts (one from each college you have attended) and two letters of recommendation. Only sealed official transcripts or official electronic transcripts will be accepted. You must arrange for transcripts from all institutions where you have taken college level courses.

Letters of recommendation should be sent from the author's email to REU. An application will not be considered complete until the application form, letters of reference, and transcripts arrive at Sanford Research. Late applications will not be considered.

Alternatively, transcripts and letters of recommendation may be mailed to:
Sanford Research
Attn: Sanford Outreach
2301 E. 60th Street North
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-0589 

SPUR Program Application (Augustana Students)
(If you are having trouble downloading, please e mail REU and application will
be emailed to you)

Applications for the 2015 summer SPUR program are due February 15, 2015

NSF REU Program Application
(If you are having trouble downloading, please e mail: and application will
be emailed to you)

NOTE: Please download applications using Internet Explorer (not Firefox or Chrome). If you have trouble downloading or submitting the application, please e mail REU or call (605) 312-6590. You can also upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Reader by visiting