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IDEA (Increasing Diversity and Enhancing Academia) seeks motivated and talented undergraduate students interested in participating in a ten week summer research program and six Saturday Intensives during the academic year. Students will work with UNC faculty on cutting-edge science, participate in graduate school preparation seminars, and share experiences with each other. Research opportunities in the fields of Marine Sciences, Geology, Geography, and Environmental Sciences are available. Previous research experience is not required. IDEA provides the foundation and skills necessary to pursue a graduate degree in the geosciences. This program is funded by the National Science Foundation, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Pathways into Geoscience (IUSE: GEOPATHS – IMPACT).

Students Receive

  • Conduct lab and field research with faculty at UNC or NCCU or participate in an internship/externship with a private company, government agency, or non-profit focused on the geosciences
  • Earn a $4500 summer stipend (30 hours/week)
  • Participate in weekly graduate school preparation seminars throughout the summer
  • Present your work at the UNC Research Symposium with additional opportunities for presenting at regional or national conferences


  • Full-time student attending UNC or NCCU
  • UNC students should be rising sophomores or juniors
  • NCCU students should be rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors
  • Demonstrated interest in pursuing graduate school or a career pathway in one of the geosciences
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must be in, and remain, in good academic standing
  • Women and underrepresented minorities* in the geosciences are encouraged to apply
*Underrepresented minority groups (URM) in the geosciences, as defined by the National Science Foundation, are people of African American/Black, Hispanic American, Native Pacific Islander (Polynesian or Micronesian), and Native American (American Indian or Alaskan Native) descent. Members of these groups have representation in science and engineering less than their representation in the total population (NSF, 2011).

Program Contact

Megan Hughes, Program Director | 919-966-2463

Chris McGinn, NCCU Program Liason | 919-530-6269

Commonly Asked Questions

Do I need research experience? No, the purpose of this program is to provide you with research experience. Depending on the internship or externship, you may need to have taken certain courses or have a particular skill. We will match you up with a project that is appropriate for you.

Should my application be geared toward my first research choice? No, you are accepted to the IDEA Program first and then matched with a research project. We make every effort to match students with their first choice but several faculty may review your materials.

What research positions are available? Research positions change each year.

Is there flexibility in the start and end dates? Students may start as early as May 18. Students are expected to commit to 300 hours during the summer. Most work 30 hours/week for 10 weeks. However, if a family vacation or summer class interferes with that schedule, there is flexibility to adjust the schedule as long as the research faculty agrees and the student completes 300 hours and turns in all expected work by August 7.

Is housing included? No, students must find their own housing.