Center for Digital Agriculture

REU Program



The Center for Digital Agriculture (CDA) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) is a 10-week paid on-site REU program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center for Digital Agriculture. This REU program brings together students with backgrounds in computation, agriculture, and biological systems and offers training to work across disciplines. Equipping a generation of students to work across disciplines reveals the opportunity for addressing grand challenges with robust problem-solving. We expect that all REU students will increase their competency and fluency with respect to digital ag technologies applied to complex biological applications. Students will have the opportunity to work on projects with faculty affiliates from the Center for Digital Agriculture, the Artificial Intelligence for Future Agricultural Resilience, Management, and Sustainability (AIFARMS), and the Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems (CROPPS), as well external partnerships.

REU Highlights

  • 10-week in-person program opportunities: 

    • Student research projects supervised by multidisciplinary faculty members and graduate student mentors
    • Weekly research team meetings with mentors to discuss progress and present their work
    • AI Foundry for Ag Applications and Hackathon (weeklong short course hosted by AIFARMS)
    • Professional development seminars, including topics such as imposter syndrome, scientific writing, scientific posters/presentations, resume writing
    • Enrichment in entrepreneurship with seminars and workshops, including customer discovery, technology commercialization, and startup funding
    • Site visits to farms, companies, and government offices
    • Attend and present research at the AIFARMS Annual Conference
    • Develop an abstract and scientific poster that can be presented at other conferences

  • $600/week stipend, paid housing (arranged by program), one covered meal per day, one round trip travel allowance to and from UIUC campus

All students who apply to the UIUC CDA REU must be: 

  • Citizens of the United States or permanent residents.
  • Enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a baccalaureate degree in engineering, computer science, crop/plant science, biology, animal science, agricultural sciences, technology management, or other related majors. 
  • In good academic standing. There is no minimum GPA requirement for the program. 
  • Available full-time during the program.
  • At least 18 years of age by the start date of the program.

Other considerations for student applicants: 

  • Students do not need to have previous programming experience. Students will be matched to projects taking past experience into account. 
  • Preference will be given to rising juniors who have completed their sophomore year by the program’s start. All other student levels are welcome to apply and will be considered. 
  • Priority will be given to populations historically underrepresented in STEM, including those from minority-serving institutions (MSIs)—such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and schools with limited research opportunities for undergraduates, including community colleges, applying from outside of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • REU students will work at least 36 hours per week on projects and up to 4 hours per week on professional development, attending program-wide activities, and other engagements.
  • REU students must give an oral presentation of work performed at the REU. Support for preparing the presentation will be included in the REU program. 
  • REU students must prepare and submit an abstract and poster of the work done. Support for preparing the abstract and poster will be included in the REU program. 
  • REU students must attend the AI Foundry for Ag Applications and the AIFARMS annual conference.
  • REU students must live in campus housing — arranged by the REU site program coordinator.
  • REU students must attend ALL weekly seminars and professional development events.

How much are REU students paid as part of the summer program?
Students will receive a $600/week stipend, housing allowance, and one meal per day allowance. Travel to and from campus is also supported, up to $800 per student. Students will be paid once a month via direct deposit on June 16th, July 16th, and August 16th.

I am an international student studying at a U.S. university. I am not a citizen and do not have a green card. Am I eligible for your program?
Funding for the REU program is restricted to U.S. Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents (i.e., Green Card holders). If you are neither a citizen nor have a green card, we cannot provide funding. If you have support from another source, please reach out to the program director about opportunities to participate as an unfunded REU student. 

Is this program open to current U of I students?
Any U of I student who meets the requirements regarding citizenship and undergraduate status is eligible. Priority is given to students outside of the university. 

I am a senior and will graduate in May. Am I still eligible for your program?
The program is targeted at undergraduates (the “U” in REU). Students who have received their bachelor’s degree by the time of the program are ineligible.

Can I take a part-time job in the summer while I am participating in the REU program?
No. Participating in the REU program will be your full-time obligation.

Can I take summer classes while participating in the REU?
No. Participating in the REU program will be your full-time obligation. You should not plan to extend your obligations to include courses. Exceptions may be made in special circumstances, and those should be approved prior to program acceptance.

I’d like to attend my sister’s wedding in Texas on July 10, and as a result, may miss a day or two of the program. Will this be a problem?
In general, participants are expected to be in residence during the full period of the REU program, May 30-Aug 4th. Occasional absences may be approved in advance with the Program Coordinator.

Can I bring my pet? 
Certified housing that has been arranged by the program does not allow pets. Service animals are allowed with documentation. 

I’m only a first-year/freshman or sophomore. Can I apply? 
First-year/freshman and sophomores who display a strong interest in digital agriculture, artificial intelligence, and/or machine learning are welcome to apply. All applications will be reviewed, and priority will be given to juniors and seniors, followed by underclassmen. 

Do I need a car? 

You are not required to bring or acquire a car. Having your own transportation for the summer can have advantages. Some students will be working at field sites off the main campus. If you do not have your own transportation, arrangements can be made to support your access to field sites.

Champaign-Urbana has a great public bus system that REU participants can ride for free, so access to general needs on campus and around town are not restricted without having your own car. 

 Do I need to know computer programming? 
Computer programming knowledge is not required. We will pair students with projects based on interests and skills. Training will be provided for background that is needed for research projects.

I don’t know if I want to go to grad school. Can I still participate in the REU program? 
The REU program is a great place to explore if you are interested in research. You will also learn skills you can apply in industry if you decide graduate school is not a good fit for you. 

I have a question not mentioned here. Who do I contact?
You can email Program Coordinator Christina Tucker 


Notify me for more information for summer 2024 program:

This program is also supported by NSF proposal #2244580 REU Site: Drivers for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Practices (MAPs), the Center for Digital Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence for Future Agricultural Resilience, Management, and Sustainability (AIFARMS), and Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems (CROPPS)


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