Summer Undergraduate Research Program

The application for the 2023 program closed on February 1st.

About the Undergraduate Research Program

The Center for Sustainable Polymers is a NSF Center for Chemical Innovation whose mission is to transform how plastics are made and unmade through innovative research, engaging education, and diverse partnerships that together foster environmental stewardship. CSP participants aim to design, prepare, and implement polymers derived from renewable resources for a wide range of advanced applications, and to promote future economic development, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability in the emergent area of biobased products.

This paid research experience requires a full-time commitment to extensive lab work for ten weeks during the summer. All participants will have the opportunity to present their research in a CSP meeting at the end of the summer and in an undergraduate research expo.

Timeline for undergraduate application. Text on the timeline reads: October 2022: Applications open. February 1, 2023: Application Deadline. Late March - Early April 2023: Decisions released. June 5, 2023: program starts. August 11, 2023: Program ends.

Program & Eligibility

The CSP will provide up to 16 full-time research positions to undergraduate students during the summer.  Positions may be available at the University of Minnesota, the University of California–Berkeley, Northwestern University, Cornell University, the University of Chicago, and the University of South Dakota.

We anticipate the 2023 summer program to be in-person. Program structure and any modifications are subject to change and will follow the public health guidelines at each host institution. Some host institutions may require participants to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Program dates are June 5- August 11, 2023 but we can accommodate students whose semester/quarter end dates overlap with the program start.

This program is open to undergraduate students in science and engineering majors, preferably chemistry, chemical engineering, or materials science. Program participants must be US citizens or permanent residents. Historically excluded and multicultural students are strongly encouraged to apply (e.g. female, genderqueer, transgender, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Native American or Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, bisexual, gay, lesbian, queer, disability, or veteran of the US Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard).

Visit our team page to learn about our investigators and their research.


The application for the 2023 program closed on February 1st. Decisions for this year will be released in late March or early April. Thank you to all of the applicants and undergrads who have made this program a success!

A complete application consists of:

  1. An online application form
  2. Statement of purpose: 500-word (maximum) statement describing why you wish to participate in this program.
  3. One Letter of recommendation: submitted as a PDF file or on official university letterhead directly from a faculty member, ideally one whom you have had as an instructor or has advised you as a research mentor.
  4. Resume
  5. Transcript: unofficial transcripts are accepted

CSP Highlights and Offerings

marc hillmyer at podium speaking

About the CSP

The CSP integrates sustainability issues that focus on the science and technology of polymeric materials into research, education, and public outreach initiatives. We aim to establish foundational chemical principles that enable the efficient and economical conversion of natural and abundant molecules into tomorrow’s advanced polymers.

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sustainable polymer framework infographic

Sustainable Polymer Framework

The field of sustainable polymers is a very active, broad, and diverse area of research. Our goal is to introduce an integrated systems-thinking approach that considers the interconnection of all sustainable polymer criteria and their potential impact across the environment, economy, and society.

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beyond the classroom

Beyond the Classroom

The Beyond the Classroom series allows our researchers to become more knowledgeable about broad topics relevant to the Center’s research. These seminars are designed to give interdisciplinary peers a shared understanding and to foster collaborative research.

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Internal Research Meetings

Each month, connect with over 70+ CSP investigators and researchers on the latest work happening around the Center. These virtual meetings consist of three ten-minute research presentations followed by breakout rooms to share ideas and ask questions with the speakers.

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What’s new?

See what is happening now around Center on CSP news and social media.

CSP NewsTwitterYouTubeLinkedIn

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Covestro Lectureship in Sustainability

With generous sponsorship from Covestro, the CSP hosts the annual Covestro Lectureship in Sustainability. Leaders working on issues in sustainability deliver a lecture designed for a general audience.

Covestro Lecture


For questions, contact Director of Education, Outreach, & Diversity, Jennifer McCambridge