Research Experience for Undergraduates site in Interdisciplinary Mind & Brain Studies at the University of Pennsylvania

Supported by the National Science Foundation (Award # 2050803)

This program offers an integrated paid ten-week summer research experience for eight (non-Penn) students that combines the opportunity to work on a research project in an established lab at an R1 university with an introductory workshop on brains and behavior and ongoing programming to support student development and well-being.


Run by MindCORE (Mind Center for Outreach, Research and Education)—the school-wide hub at the University of Pennsylvania for studying human intelligence and behavior— MindCORE’s animating philosophy is that building an understanding of human intelligence and behavior requires bringing to bear tools and insights from multiple disciplinary traditions. To achieve this goal, MindCORE brings together faculty with diverse approaches to the study of the mind and brain (e.g., Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Computer Science) that cross multiple schools in the university (e.g., Arts & Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Communications, Business).


Program Overview

This program aims to attract and support students from diverse backgrounds to the field of cognitive science. Under the supervision of faculty and program staff, students participate in:

      • 1 week introductory workshop on interdisciplinary research in cognitive science
      • 9 weeks of mentored research experience
      • research ethics training
      • technical training
      • lab tours
      • professional development opportunities with the aim to prepare participants for pursuing advanced education and careers in related fields of research
      • guidance toward creating a final poster or presentation of the student’s summer research work

The research project that students embark on with their respective mentors will be shaped as much as possible by the students’ interests. They will be matched to faculty based on their research interest and mentor preference. Learn more about potential faculty mentors here.



During the research experience students will convene 3 times weekly for the following:

      • an informal group check-in on research progress and journal club with a (graduate student or postdoc) step-ahead mentor (every Monday)
      • research seminars led by MindCORE faculty (every Wednesday), and
      • lab tours or professional skills sessions
      • The ten-week research experience will conclude with a conference-style poster presentation where each student will present their summer work. All lab staff, faculty mentors, key staff, and campus and community leaders will be invited to attend.

Eligibility Requirements

This program seeks talented undergraduate students early in their college career, ideally rising sophomores, who are first-generation, low-income, or from an underrepresented group in STEM, or students with disabilities or students from academic institutions with limited research experiences available in the study of mind and brain. To be eligible, each student must fulfill the following requirements by the start of the REU program:

      • be a U.S. citizen or non-citizen permanent resident
      • be enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited college or university leading to a baccalaureate degree
      • demonstrated interest in aspects of cognitive science as reflected in introductory coursework in related fields
      • be at least 18 years of age, ideally rising sophomores
      • have an overall GPA of 3.30 or higher (exceptions are possible)
      • have at least one semester of undergraduate school remaining before graduation (eligible applicants may not be graduating seniors)
      • be able to travel to and live in Philadelphia for the 10-week duration of the program

Stipend & Other Benefits

Eight student fellows are selected for the program each year and provided with:

      • A stipend of $600 per week / $6000 for the 10-week program, paid monthly
      • 10 weeks of on-campus housing at Penn
      • Meal allowance
      • Travel expenses to Penn’s campus and a return to the home or home institution at the program end
      • Travel expenses to attend the Annual REU meeting

Program Dates and Deadlines

The 10-week program takes place each summer from early June to mid-August.


Required Application Materials

Applications are submitted online and include:

Gareth Roberts, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics
Co-Director, Social and Cultural Evolution Working Group (SCEW)
University of Pennsylvania


Co-PI: Florian Schwarz, PhD
Undergraduate Chair, Department of Linguistics
Associate Director of Education, MindCORE
University of Pennsylvania


Faculty Mentors


Dolores Albarracin
Cognitive and motivational bases of action and communication


Coren Apicella
Biological and cultural processes shaping individual and social behavior


Marlyse Baptista
Cognitive processes in language contact, bilingualism/multilingualism


Sudeep Bhatia
Computational and behavioral modeling of how people think and decide


Ramon Diaz-Arrastia
Developing targeted, personalized therapies for traumatic brain injury


Yun Ding
Genetic & neural mechanisms of individual & social behavior evolution


Emily Falk
Neuroscience of behavioral change and health communication


Roy Hamilton
Non-invasive brain stimulation and neural reorganization


Joe Kable
Individual and social decision making in humans


David Lydon-Staley
Media and interpersonal communication


Allyson Mackey
Experience and neuroplasticity in children


Danaë Metaxa
Bias and representation in high-stakes social settings


Gareth Roberts
Experiments on social pressures in the cultural evolution of language


Marc Schmidt
Social networks and communication in birds


Kathryn Schuler
Experiments on language learning in children


Florian Schwarz
Meaning comprehension and processing in context


Meredith Tamminga
Language variation according to social background and social context


Lyle Ungar
Machine learning analysis of social media data to understand well-being


Schedule Examples


One-Week Introductory Workshop Schedule Sample


6:00-8:00 PM

Welcome Dinner


8:30-10:00 AM

Penn Public Safety & Violence Prevention Presentation

10:30-12:00 PM

Topic 1: Perception

12:00-1:00 PM



Topic 1 Group work/discussion: Perception

2:30-4:30 PM

Research Skills Tutorial: R

6:30 PM

Optional Philadelphia Fun: Chinatown Visit


8:30-10:00 AM

Living Labs: Communicating Science to Non Scientists, Outreach and Advocacy

10:30-12:00 PM

Topic 2: Learning (including work on growth mindset)

12:00-1:00 PM



Topic 2 Group work/discussion: Learning

2:30-4:30 PM

Research Skills Tutorial: Experiment Design

6:30 PM

Optional Philadelphia Fun: West Africa in West Philadelphia


8:30-10:00 AM

Reflection & Discussion: Responsible Conduct of Research

10:30-12:00 PM

Topic 3: Decision-Making

12:00-1:00 PM



Topic 3 Group work/ discussion: Decision-Making

2:30-4:30 PM

Research Skills Tutorial: Python OR R cont’d

6:30 PM

Optional Philadelphia Fun: Spruce Street Harbor Park


8:30-10:00 AM

Reflection & Discussion: Getting Started with Research, Brannon Lab

10:30-12:00 PM

Topic 4: Communication

12:00-1:00 PM



Topic 4 Group work/ discussion: Communication

2:30-4:30 PM

Demonstrations: Explorations of tools and techniques used in research of the mind and brain including TMS, fMRI, eye-tracking, mTurk, optogenetics

6:30 PM

Optional Philadelphia Fun: Boat House Row


8:30-10:00 AM

Reflection & Discussion: Neuroscience and Society, Martha Farah, Psychology

10:30-12:00 PM

Topic 5: Social Behavior

12:00-1:00 PM



Topic 5 Group work / discussion: Social Behavior

1:30-4:30 PM

Field Trip: Looking, Perceiving, and Communicating: Lessons from the Barnes and a One-Hour Observation of a Single Work: Zab Johnson, Wharton Neuroscience Initiative

6:30 PM

Optional Philadelphia Fun: Game Night


Draft Professional Development & Lab Demonstrations (alternating Thursdays weeks 2-10)

Week 2

Professional Development: Best Practices in Open Science

Week 3

Lab Demonstration: Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation with Roy Hamilton (transcranial magnetic stimulation in adults)

Week 4

Professional Development: Applying to Graduate School

Week 5

Lab Demonstration: The Changing Brain Lab with Allyson Mackey (fMRI brain imaging in children)

Week 6

Professional Development: Poster Session 101

Week 7

Lab Demonstration: Schmidt Lab with Marc Schmidt (machine learning technology to record avian behavior)

Week 8

Professional Development: Presenting Your Research

Week 9

Lab Demonstration: Abdus-Saboor Lab with Ishmail Abdus-Saboor (assessing pain in mice)

Week 10

Professional Development: Attending Conferences

Summer 2021 Summary of Student Evaluations


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Questions about this program can be addressed to


Click here to return to the main MindCORE Summer Fellowship Program page.