SURFing the Material Measurement Laboratory and the NIST Center for Neutron Research
The Material Measurement Laboratory and the NIST Center for Neutron Research encourage undergraduate science and engineering majors to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at NIST in Gaithersburg, MD. MML/NCNR SURF activities offer students the opportunity to spend 11 weeks during the summer performing hands-on research in chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemistry, materials science, and condensed-matter physics.
The MML serves as the national reference laboratory for measurement research, standards, and data in the chemical, biological and material sciences. MML research supports areas of national importance such as
The MML conducts research in analytical chemistry, biochemical science, ceramics, chemical and biochemical reference data, materials reliability, metallurgy, polymers, surface and microanalysis science, and thermophysical properties of materials.
The NCNR is a major national user facility and resource for industry, universities, and government agencies with merit-based access made available to the entire U.S. technological community. Neutrons are powerful probes of the structure and dynamics of materials ranging from molecules inserted into membranes mimicking cell walls to protons migrating through fuel cells. The unique properties of neutrons can be exploited by a variety of measurement techniques to provide information not available by other means. They are particularly well suited to investigate all forms of magnetic materials such as those used in computer memory storage and retrieval. Atomic motion, especially that of hydrogen, can be measured and monitored, like that of water during the setting of cement. Residual stresses such as those inside stamped steel automobile parts can be mapped. Neutron-based research covers a broad spectrum of disciplines, including engineering, biology, materials science, chemistry, physics, and computer science. Current experimental and theoretical research is focused on materials such as polymers, metals, ceramics, magnetic materials, porous media, fluids and gels, and biological molecules.
MML/NCNR SURF Students and Program Directors
Students applying to this SURF activity are offered two programmatic choices, Chemical/Biochemical Sciences, or Materials Science (which includes projects at the NCNR). Click here to see examples of SURF student project titles from recent years – note that projects change every year according to MML/NCNR research needs and activities.
SURF Fellowships include a stipend, travel, and housing allowance. Application packages must be submitted by the student’s academic institution; e.g., by a faculty member or other appropriate administrative staff. Complete information about the program and application process is available on the NIST/SURF home page. When applying, students should indicate their first- and second-choice programs from among the six possible choices. Applications may be considered by any of the programs, with preference given to the student’s indicated choices.
The other NIST laboratories also participate in the SURF program so be sure to check out their web pages. MML also offers SURF opportunities at the Boulder NIST campus, so check out the NIST SURF Program at the Boulder campus as well.
Student Eligibility Criteria
SURF Plan of Operation
Julie Borchers (NCNR)