Experiences for
Undergraduates (REU)

REU: Equitable pathways to community disaster resilience 

ARISE logo

May 28 – August 2, 2024

How to apply

REU Flyer (PDF)

Review of applicants starts Feb. 22, 2024, and continues until all 10 to 12 spots are filled.

Contact Alej Martinez

The goal of this REU is to provide undergraduate students with an immersive research experience linked to finding equitable pathways to community disaster resilience.

Students will learn about water, energy, and transportation systems and resilience. They will also learn about how community planning with a social equity lens can bolster resilience.  In addition, they will gain an in-depth understanding of the research process in an interdisciplinary learning space. Professional development, data analytics training, and other activities will support students in navigating future studies and career paths.

This REU program is funded by a Kansas NSF EPSCoR initiative known as ARISE, which stands for adaptive and resilient infrastructures driven by social equity. Having statewide connections through ARISE means that students get the chance to be paired with dedicated faculty mentors at one of three universities: Kansas State University (KSU), University of Kansas (KU), and Wichita State University (WSU).

Diversity Matters

We strongly believe that an array of values, interests, experiences, and intellectual and cultural viewpoints enrich our learning. Our program is committed to an open, diverse and inclusive research and learning environment that nurtures the growth and development of all. It is through this equitable framework that we plan, engage, recruit, and teach. We aspire to train a diverse cohort of students and especially encourage applications from traditionally excluded communities in the fields of science and engineering. Studies have shown how diversity is a catalyst for innovative solutions and it enhances a participant’s experience.

How is this REU unique

Our REU program is unique compared to other REU programs for a couple reasons. First, it emphasizes community engaged research methodology, which centers community needs and informs research with local knowledge for resilience planning. Fieldwork experience explores various aspects of social inequities, community planning and preparation, infrastructure resilience and investments, and other areas to help you understand different perspectives and the challenges that rural and urban communities face. With three universities involved, our participants also leave with a larger professional network than other single-college summer programs.

What to expect:

  • 10 weeks total
  • Spend the first week in Manhattan, Kansas, near the beautiful Flint Hills for the welcome orientation, teambuilding, lab safety, and other training exercises.
  • Spend the rest of the summer living on campus at either Kansas State University, University of Kansas, or Wichita State University doing research, attending workshops, and engaging in other fun activities.
  • Experience team-based interdisciplinary research.
  • Get training for community engaged research.
  • End the summer by presenting a research poster at a joint symposium and writing a research report.


  • $6,000 summer stipend
  • Summer housing on campus or stipend for off-campus living
  • Meal plan to eat on campus
  • State-of-the-art labs
  • Inclusive learning spaces
  • Buffalos, butterflies, and big-sky vistas!

Program Details

Eligibility: Applicants must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate degree program, preferably having completed at least 2 years of college coursework or an associate degree. Community college students are encouraged to apply but must be planning to enroll in a 4-year college in fall 2024. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents.

*Students who have already graduated with a four-year degree are not eligible.

Who should apply:  Undergraduates majoring in agriculture, business, mathematics, engineering, psychology, sociology, urban planning, public policy, economics, computer science, geography, environmental science, and related fields of study are welcome to apply.

*All students from across the U.S. are welcome to apply, but applications from Kansas students will be given first-priority.

Why YOU should apply: This program offers multiple entry points for you to explore the science of resilience. Not only will you get to learn about how investigators engage with rural and urban communities to conduct research. You will also learn about how historical inequities in infrastructure impact resilience. Data science will be featured as well. In addition, you will build professional skills, take field trips into local communities, find opportunities in graduate studies, discover career paths, and work with supportive mentors.

How to Apply

Before you launch the application form, be ready to provide the following items:

  1. Prepare answers to these questions — In 150 words or less answer each of the questions: 1) What does the idea of building resilience to natural disasters mean to you? 2)  What are your hopes for your future? 3) Is there anything else that the reviewers should be aware of? (optional)
  2. Video OR Written Essay – in either a video or essay format, please answer these questions: Who are you? What experiences have shaped your life? How are you resilient (or not) in your own life? Format for video: 3 minutes max. Format for essay: 2 pages max; PDF file with your name at the top.
  3. Unoffocial Transcript from your university coursework – upload file
  4. Resume (1-page max; PDF preferred) –  upload file
  5. Two Letters of Recommendation – Ask two people who are familiar with you to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. One letter should speak to your work experience (professional skills). One letter should speak to your academic skills. Upload letters with your application (PDF preferred).

Potential Mentors

REU Leadership:

  • Jason Bergtold (he), Professor, Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University
  • Belinda Sturm (she), Professor, ARISE Director, Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering, University of Kansas
  • Visvakumar Aravinthan (he), Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Wichita State University

Other Faculty Mentors:

  • George Amariucai (he), Associate Professor, Computer Science, Kansas State University
  • Husain AzizAssistant Professor, Civil Engineering Department, Kansas State University
  • Justin Hutchison (he), Assistant Professor, Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering, University of Kansas
  • Joel Mendez (he), Assistant Professor, Public Affairs & Administration, University of Kansas
  • Bala Natarajan (he), Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Kansas State University
  • Anil Pahwa (he), University Distinguished Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Kansas State University
  • Edward Peltier (he), Associate Chair and Professor of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering, University of Kansas
  • Ehsan Salari, Associate Professor of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering, Wichita State University
  • Lior Shamir (he), Associate Professor, Computer Science, Kansas State University
  • Vaishali Sharda (she), Assistant Professor, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Kansas State University
  • Elaina Sutley (she), Associate Professor, Associate Dean of Diversity School of Engineering, Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering, University of Kansas
  • Xiaoheng Wang (she), Assistant Professor, Public Affairs, Wichita State University


  • Alej Martinez, Program Coordinator for Education and Community Engagement, Kansas NSF EPSCoR
  • Claudia Bode, Education, Outreach, and Diversity Director, Kansas NSF EPSCoR
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Funding by the National Science Foundation EPSCoR RII Track-1 grant #2148878.