NSF-Research Experience for Undergraduates

NSF-Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): Observing the Ocean

student looking over the side of a boat

The Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University is between funding cycles and so unfortunately will not be offering our program during Summer 2023. However, we are excited to announce that we will be running our program during Summer 2024, so please come back to see us then!

The Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University summer REU program will focus on "Observing the Ocean: hypoxia, harmful algae, contaminants, nutrients, and ocean modeling." Ten students will work closely with faculty and staff mentors in laboratories and on seagoing projects to acquire the analytical skills for multidisciplinary oceanographic research. They will have the opportunity to plan, participate in, and use the data from a 3-day REU research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the R/V Pelican to investigate our changing ocean. The program is rounded out by a weekly professional development workshop series that helps students navigate careers, applying to graduate school, and other professional skills necessary to help them meet their professional goals!

2024 Program important dates: May 27 - August 2

  • Arrival May 27: housing at off-campus apartments adjacent to campus
  • Week 1: Program begins May 28; initiate research projects in consultation with mentors
  • Week 3: 3-day research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Week 10: REU Student Research Symposium: Best presentation prize awarded ($1500 travel grant to a national conference).
  • Every Friday: REU group meetings to practice science communication and host professional development workshops

Students will:

  • Work with faculty mentors to develop a research plan.
  • Receive training on sensors, data management and analysis, cruise planning and operations, and science writing.
  • Receive professional development training on reading the scientific literature, CVs/resumes, diversity equity and inclusion, applying to graduate school and getting fellowships, searching for careers, and more!
  • Meet weekly to present and discuss results of their projects.
  • As a group, develop a research plan for a research cruise.
  • At the end of summer, prepare a final report or poster, and make a presentation to the group.
  • Compete for a Best Presentation award


To be eligible for this research opportunity you must be:

  • A US citizen, US national, or US permanent resident.
  • Enrolled as an undergraduate in a degree program leading to a baccalaureate or associate degree; preference will be given to students with rising junior or sophomore status.
  • Most accepted applicants will have a minimum grade point average of 2.75.
  • Non-US students and graduating seniors are not eligible for this program.


Applications for the 2024 program will be due in February 2024.

The application requires:

  • Basic application information on education and experience
  • Mentor selection
  • A 500-word essay on why you are interested in the REU program, including your research interests, current experience, and future career goals
  • Transcript (unofficial is acceptable)
  • Curriculum vitae (CV; in PDF format)
  • 2 recommendation letters (you must have your letter writers email their recommendations to reuotoapp@geos.tamu.edu)

Announcement of acceptances: early March

Mentors & Research Interests

For more information, see Mentors & Projects page.

  • Dr. Lisa Campbell: Phytoplankton ecology, harmful algal blooms
  • Dr. Ping Chang: Climate dynamics, climate modeling and prediction, hurricanes
  • Dr. Steve DiMarco: Observational oceanography and ocean observing systems, hypoxia
  • Dr. Jessica Fitzsimmons: Biochemistry of metals in seawater, nutrient and contaminant cycling, mass spectrometry analysis
  • Dr. Gerardo Gold-Bouchot: Chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in coastal ecosystems
  • Dr. Darren Henrichs: Machine learning in biology, individual-based modeling, phytoplankton taxonomy, dinoflagellate ecology
  • Dr. Spencer Jones: Ocean physics, ocean trancer transport, global overturning circulation, ocean mixing
  • Dr. Andrew Klein: Remote sensing and Geographic Information Science (GISci) in polar environments
  • Dr. Yina Liu: Chemical oceanography, organic biochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, mass spectrometry analysis and data algorithm development
  • Dr. Alejandro Orsi: Physical oceanography, polar oceanography, global circulation, ocean climate variability
  • Dr. Niall Slowey: Geological oceanography, paleoceanography, high-resolution seafloor mapping and seismic stratigraphy
  • Dr. Shari Yvon-Lewis: Role of the ocean in regulating important atmospheric gases, halocarbons, methane, carbon dioxide and other trace gases
  • Dr. Yige Zhang: Paleoceanography, past changes in climate, lipid biomarkers or "molecular fossils" and their stable isotopes

Anonymous Feedback From Former REU Students

“I feel that I learned way more about research here than I did my past three 3 years of doing research at my home institution. This program has given me the practical experience in oceanography that I needed to guide my graduate school and professional goals.” – a 2018 REU alum

“I feel that I gained experience with data techniques I was unfamiliar with and gained many data analysis, display, and management techniques. I believe this program will be extremely beneficial for me to move forward and manage my own data and analyzing it.” – a 2021 REU alum 

"My expectation that faulty would collaborate and work together with students was exceeded. In addition, the field cruise was the most impactful part of the summer and gave connection to the data and investment in the research.” – a 2018 REU alum

“I learned a lot about oceanography, and I finished the program with a lot of things that I am proud of. I think this will be helpful when I apply to grad school and when I do more research in the future. I also met a great group of people interested in oceanography and a mentor who I can talk to about my future plans/research.” – a 2021 REU alum