College students are taking their finals this week and feverishly checking the online course pages for their final grades to post. They are packing their bags to head home for the holiday break. As a newish faculty member, I know how it feels to be ready for the end of the semester. We all deserve a break. But it’s not too early to ask yourself: what are my plans for next summer?

It feels like a long way out, but it’s the perfect time to plan for a successful 2018. Here is my list of summer research programs, also called REUs—Research Experiences for Undergraduates—that offer deeply engaging authentic research experiences for undergraduate students. These programs aim to attract energetic and curious students from all over the nation and provide funding to assist with travel, as well as lodging and stipends. For students who do especially well, these summer experiences can also translate to additional professional opportunities to attend scientific meetings and present their research to international audiences. Plus, the mentoring opportunities can’t be overestimated.

The deadlines for REU applications are usually in the early spring (February to March). But I recommend that students visit these programs and apply now. Make your winter break productive and get a big head start on the competition and apply for a summer 2018 REU position.

Here are some of the best:

1. Marine Sciences Summer Program. Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences, this REU awards 10 science, engineering, and mathematics undergraduates summer internships to conduct guided research in marine science.

2. REU in Tropical Ecology and Evolution, Puerto Rico. Application deadline February 15, 2018.

3. New York University has 2 REU programs to check out: Materials Research and Chemical Biology.

4. University at Buffalo has two biomedical programs: SURE and CLIMB. Both provide a stipend and housing and in Western New York. Research projects are available from fields including microbiology, neuroscience and pharmacology. 

5. Kettering University’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (UPIR-REU). Flint, Michigan. This includes various projects from environmental sciences, evolutionary biology, plants, zoology, microbiology research related to human health, etc.

6. Northwestern University's Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics offers great research opportunities, plus students get science communication training through a research communication program. Northwestern  REU alumni have attended national professional science conferences and won best poster awards.

7. Summer Research Experience Programs in Cancer Science, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, provides opportunities for students to conduct biomedical research.

8. Cooperative Institute for Climate Science Research Internship Program at Princeton University is recruiting both undergraduate and graduate students for 8–10 week research internships in atmospheric, oceanic and earth system science. Summer internships in climate science include stipend and travel expenses.

9. University of Kansas Research Experience for Undergraduates, Models in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, provides stipend, room and board, travel expenses.

10. Ohio State University offers many REUs. Evolutionary biology at Ohio State. All expenses plus stipend to use next-generation sequencing on species-level questions. First and second year students are especially encouraged to apply. Next Gen and Stone Lab REU applications are due in early February; stipend covers tuition (in-state cost) as well as room/meals.

11. San Jose State University Research by Undergraduates using Molecular Biology Applications offers many different research opportunities in a variety of labs. A particular point of pride are the research opportunities on offer in neuroscience and proprioception.

12. Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates at the SETI Institute. Explore life in the universe. Focusing on astronomy and planetary science. This program offers a stipend, plus lodging and travel.

13. University of Minnesota offers server REU programs across the range of sciences. Visit this link to explore the many options they have.

14. Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory offers the Summer Program in Neuroscience, Excellence and Success (SPINES) and other courses related to environmental science, marine sciences, biology, including research internships. These are excellent opportunities to join the highly esteemed tradition of marine, ecology and microbiology research at Woods Hole MBL.

15. Indiana University's Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior offers a $5,000 stipend to engage 10 weeks of animal behavior research in the most esteemed animal behavior-focused research institution in the nation.

16. Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program at the University of Texas at Austin provides undergraduate students who are interested in psychology with research opportunities and graduate school preparation. The program offers funding for travel and summer stipends. Students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

Best of luck!