VIMS REU Summer Intern Program FAQs

General
  • Is the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) REU Summer Intern Program only for students from VIMS and William & Mary? Who is eligible?
    The answer is a decided NO! The VIMS REU Summer Intern Program is open to students from any college or university. Students from traditionally under-represented groups in the marine sciences are encouraged to apply. Due to funding constraints, undergraduate student participants supported with NSF funds in either REU Supplements or REU Sites must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States. Students who will have received their Bachelor's degree prior to August of the program year are not eligible.
  • Why should I choose the VIMS REU Summer Intern Program?
    VIMS has world-class scientists in many scientific disciplines: marine science, including marine biology and ecology; biological, geological, chemical, and physical oceanography; environmental science; fisheries; and resource management. The internship at VIMS allows you to work one-on-one with these scientists, rather than as one of many students in a classroom setting. With a relatively modest time investment of ten weeks, you can discover if you enjoy scientific research and if you would like being a graduate student
  • I applied last year and was not selected; can I reapply?
    Yes. You should fill out a completely new VIMS Summer Internship Program online application. We cannot use material from a previous application; you must submit a new online application and re-submit all application requirements.
  • I have previously participated in an NSF funded REU sites program at another institution. Am I eligible for admission to the VIMS summer intern program?
    This depends on the funding source of your previous REU site as follows:
    • If the site was funded through NSF Ocean Sciences you are not eligible for Ocean Science based research projects.
    • If the site was funded through NSF Earth Sciences, you are not eligible for Earth Science based research projects.
    • If the site was funded through any other division of NSF, for example Biological Sciences, you are eligible.
  • How are research mentors selected?
    Students are matched with research advisors through the application process; this is why the student statement of interest is an extremely important part of his/her application.
Working and Living at VIMS
  • Where will I live and what will it be like? VIMS does not have any dormitory or student housing at our Gloucester Point campus, so free housing in the dorms on the main campus in Williamsburg, Virginia (approx. 20-25 minutes away from VIMS), is provided as a courtesy to all interns by W&M. This will be basic dormitory living, nothing fancy. You will be issued an ID card that is required to enter the dorms. Each dorm room has a sink and bathroom with a common kitchen area in the dorm. There is no cafeteria program, students cook for themselves in the common kitchen. The kitchen is NOT stocked with pots, pans, utensils, etc. so you should come prepared with your own items or you can purchase what you need once you arrive. If you are driving, comfort in the W&M dorms is improved if you bring along your own microwave and mini-refrigerator, which are NOT available from the university during the summer program. We have a limited number of refrigerators available for program participants. Students are responsible for returning them clean and accounted for at the end of the summer. You will need to bring your own bed linens, towels, and pillow, as there is no linen service available in the summer. There are laundry machines in each dorm. Free Wi-Fi internet access is available in the dorms, as well as other areas on campus like the library. Access to the W&M Recreation Center is also included.
  • How will I get to work each day? Free transportation between VIMS and W&M campuses is provided via two 7-passenger vans that the students take turns driving back and forth each day. Any student who drives a VIMS vehicle is required to complete a form and provide a copy of a valid driver’s license upon arrival. Students leave W&M in the morning at 8 am to arrive at VIMS by 830 am and depart VIMS at 5 pm to arrive at W&M at 530 pm. Since VIMS vans are state vehicles and NSF provides funding for the REU Program, vans are only to be used for transportation between W&M and VIMS, approved program activities, and for students to purchase groceries. They may NOT be used for personal travel.
  • What is the VIMS campus like? VIMS is located in Gloucester Point, right on the beautiful York River. The campus is small but has everything needed to conduct first-class research.  VIMS has a Sail and Paddle Club where faculty, staff, and students enjoy being on the York River in kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards. Summer interns who are interested can sign up to participate in weekly events over the summer. Please be advised that there are no dining facilities at VIMS. Students should bring their own lunch to VIMS (except on days that the program provides lunch).
  • How many hours am I expected to work each week?  A key feature of the VIMS summer intern program involves the assignment of each participant to a research program with a VIMS faculty mentor. The intern experience entails a commitment of at least 40 hours per week (excluding lunch). Working hours are generally Monday through Friday 830 am to 5 pm, with a ½ hr. for lunch. Some days may be longer due to fieldwork, and you will participate in at least one group field trip involving a few nights away from the lab. You will also be expected to attend required group seminars that are typically on Fridays for one hour or more. These program activities are mandatory and all students are expected to participate. A summer schedule will be distributed before the program starts so you are aware up front these dates. If you must be absent during the week or for any program activity, you should expect to make up the hours.  You must notify your mentor and program coordinator for prior approval for any absences. As long as there are no program requirements on the weekends, students are encouraged to explore and travel.
  • What is the summer stipend for the VIMS REU Program? Interns will receive a stipend of $5,500 for the 10-week program (paid on the 1st and 16th of the month, for a total of 5 payments) and a $400 food allowance to help offset the cost of making your own meals. In addition, most interns will receive partial to full travel costs to and from the program from their home or university. Please note: Travel arrangements must be made in conjunction with the REU program office, and interns will not be reimbursed for tickets they purchase without prior written permission of the Program Coordinator.
  • Is Gloucester Point and Williamsburg safe? Gloucester Point (VIMS) and Williamsburg (W&M) are definitely safe cities however, like all cities, they have wonderful things to see and do but require appropriate attention to the surroundings. Like any city, just be sure to secure your belongings at all times, especially bikes. In general, most students have a great time exploring Williamsburg, Yorktown, Virginia Beach, and the surrounding areas during the summer.
  • Do I need to bring a car? No, a car is not required as we provide transportation for you between W&M and VIMS. If you do wish to bring a car that won’t be a problem but you will be responsible for purchasing a student summer parking permit through W&M. We cannot reimburse any student who uses a personal vehicle to get to VIMS each day or for research. There are no exceptions to this as per NSF guidelines, so please plan accordingly.
  • What should I bring for the summer? The atmosphere at VIMS is casual and you’ll find that jeans and "T" shirts are acceptable for most of the summer. You may be assigned fieldwork, so please bring older clothes that are suitable for such work. At least one pair of shoes that can get wet and muddy (sneakers) is desirable. “Teva” type sandals and flip-flops don’t stay on when your feet get stuck in mud and don’t protect your toes when you’re walking over an oyster reef. You are required to wear closed-toe shoes in all labs and on boats. There are a few formal events for the program where “dressing up” is expected, so you will need to pack a few nice outfits for presentations, etc. Virginia is hot in the summer, but most of the buildings in which you will work are air-conditioned. It’s wise to bring a hat and sunscreen. You might also need bug spray, but you can buy it once you arrive.
The Application Process
  1. How do I get paired with a mentor? It is important for students to look at the faculty mentors on the program website and see what research topics are possible. Select mentors or research areas that interest you and for which you are well qualified (typically based on prior coursework). It would be helpful in the evaluation process if you state your first and second choice of research areas on the letter of interest on the application. Mentors for each research area select their own students, and the statement of interest is very important in the selection process. Qualifications and enthusiasm are both important.
  2. Who should I ask for letters of recommendation? Letters of recommendation should be from academic advisors, faculty members, or those who are familiar with your academic or research abilities. If you there are no academic advisors or professors who are very familiar with you, you may ask another professional with whom you have closely interacted to write a letter.
  3. Is prior research experience necessary? Prior research experience is NOT necessary for an application to the program. However, do include a description of any prior research that you have done.
  4. How should I go about completing the application? Some parts of the application process take more time than others. It can take up to 3 weeks to get an official college transcript. Faculty members need a few days or weeks notice to write a letter of recommendation. 
    We therefore suggest that you apply in the following order:
    1. Read about the mentors and research projects online to be sure that the research conducted at VIMS really interests you. Note that we do NOT have anyone working on marine mammals.
    2. Apply for an official transcript to be sent to VIMS.
    3. Ask two faculty members or other academic advisors to write you a letter of recommendation.
    4. Write your statement of interest.
    5. Make a pdf file of your resume if you don’t have one already.
    6. Fill out the online application form for the VIMS REU summer intern program.
    7. If necessary, contact the program with questions about the application process atintern@vims.edu
Typical Schedule of a VIMS REU Summer Intern
Weekdays:
  • Rise and meet in front of W&M dorms by 8 am to leave for VIMS.
  • When you arrive at VIMS, you can work in your research lab or attend any program activities.
  • Rest of day: Research
  • Fridays: Typically a group seminar at noon, with lunch provided by program.
  • Lunchtime: Bring your own lunch (except on Fridays when program seminar is planned).
  • 5 pm meet at VIMS parking lot and wait for all interns to drive back to W&M dorms.
  • Evening: Have dinner and enjoy the city, or get caught up on research reading or data analyses.
Weekends:

Enjoy the city and your fellow interns. Some fun suggested activities include:

  • Busch Gardens in Williamsburg
  • Historic Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown- Revolutionary War, Civil War
  • Prime Outlet Shopping in Williamsburg
  • Tons of wildlife, hiking, fishing, sailing, beaches, and relaxing spots nearby
  • Richmond, VA (1 hr away)
  • Six Flags Amusement Park (outside Richmond)
  • Norfolk Waterfront (45 min. away)- on the Elizabeth River
  • Virginia Beach (1-1.5 hrs away, depending on traffic)
  • Outer Banks, NC (2-3 hrs away)
  • Blue Ridge Mountains, VA (2-3 hrs away)
  • Washington D.C. (2-3 hrs away)