Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Description of Research


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DUESS REU: Dynamic Urban Environmental Systems and Sustainability, Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site

June 5th - July 28th, 2023



The DUESS REU site at Rutgers University-Newark provides students with hands-on research related to the environment and sustainability in urban settings.  The site takes advantage of a vigorous multidisciplinary effort that involves Near Surface Geophysics, Urban Geochemistry & Biogeochemistry, and Urban Ecology, Sustainability & Biodiversity. Each scholar will choose one area of specialization, but the research and support activities will be integrated to show students: how human activity impacts the environment (soils, water, air, biota) and sustainability in urban systems; how their research is relevant to their daily lives and communities, and can benefit society; and how they can pursue research careers stemming from this experience.


DUESS REU fellows will receive a $4,800 stipend and free housing at Rutgers University-Newark for the 8-week program from June 5th- July 28th, 2023. 


Apply for the 2023 DUESS REU:

Click here for the REU Application Form

Applications Due February 10th, 2023





  • Near Surface Geophysics
  • Urban Geochemistry & Biogeochemistry
  • Urban Ecology, Sustainability & Biodiversity


Near Surface Geophysics

This research area uses basic and applied research to develop emerging geophysical technologies for minimally invasive characterization and monitoring of urban environments. This includes cutting-edge electrical and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technologies, complemented with a wide range of traditional geophysical methods.

Examples of previous REU student projects:

  • Magnetic Susceptibility: a geophysical proxy for monitoring biodegradation of contaminants and microbial activities in situ
  • Comparing geophysical parameters to hydraulic properties in synthetic sand-clay mixtures
  • Soil texture analysis based on nuclear magnetic resonance measurements


Urban Geochemistry & Biogeochemistry

Research in this area includes: geochemical processes controlling the fate of pollutants, e.g. As, Cr; and ubiquitous elements e.g. Fe, Mn; in soils and sediments, recovering useful geochemical products from urban wastes, geochemical evaluation and analysis of soil and water in Newark, measuring and characterizing electrochemical phenomena related to ongoing biogeochemical reactions, and studying harmful algal blooms that have been polluting lakes in northern New Jersey and algae that persist in the extreme environment of acid mine drainage found in northern NJ and southern NY.

Examples of previous REU student projects:

  • Summary of water sampling in urban waters to detect pollution resulting from point and nonpoint-source applications
  • Heavy metal analysis of drinking water: A campus survey of Rutgers University-Newark and study of commercial point-of-use filtration
  • Concentration of lead in urban grown vegetables: The impact of soil concentration and treatment prior to consumption


Urban Ecology, Sustainability & Biodiversity

Research in this area involves monitoring environmental conditions, conducting research, and developing and applying technology to address the environmental problems of the Hackensack Meadowlands District, which is impacted by urban and human activity; and understanding the diversity of life and organisms in urban areas.

Examples of previous REU student projects:

  • Photosynthesis and respiration in an urban wetland: leaf gas exchange of three vegetation species
  • Soil respiration in a restored and natural wetland in the New Jersey Meadowlands
  • Gas emission baseline and carbon sink strength from the three wetland surface types in the Meadowlands of New Jersey


For more information contact:

Funding for this REU site is provided by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Earth Sciences located in Alexandria, VA. The NSF contact for this program is Aisha Morris. NSF does not handle REU applications; please contact each REU site directly for application information

You may also be interested in our GEOPATHS program:

Contributing NCAS Faculty

Ashaki Rouff
Ashaki Rouff
Associate Professor
Alexander E. Gates
Alexander E. Gates
Distinguished Service Professor