Research Experience for Undergraduates

Application Deadline for 2015 cohort: Monday, December 22nd at 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time


The Water and Health in Limpopo (WHIL) Program and the Center for Global Health at the University of Virginia and PureMadi are accepting applications for Summer 2015 for our NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU).

Students who participate in this program will conduct research over an 8-week period at the University of Venda and surrounding communities in Limpopo Province, South Africa.  A small number of students may also conduct research at the University of Virginia over this same period.

Learning opportunities

• Work at the interface between water, societal, and human health disciplines

• Participate in research in a developing-world region on the African continent

• Experience community-based research opportunities on appropriate environmental technologies and systems for water supply and treatment to improve human health

• Benefit from a strong, 6-year-old partnership between the University of Virginia, the University of Venda, and the rural African communities of Ha-Mashamba, Tshibvumo, and Tshapasha

Overview of Student Activities

Students selected for participation in this program will be called Water, Society, and Health (WaSH) Scholars.  WaSH Scholars will begin their programs in April, 2014 through bi-weekly participation in video conference calls with program faculty.  These virtual meetings will engage them into ongoing research, introduce them to WHIL faculty, graduate students, and companion WaSH Scholars, and prepare them for their summer research experience in S. Africa.  In June, 2015, Scholars will travel to Johannesburg, S. Africa and will then be transported to Limpopo Province the following day.  WaSH Scholars, graduate mentors, and faculty will share accommodations in gated communities in Thohoyandou (just a few minutes from the University of Venda) and/or Louis Trichardt (close to our ceramic water filter factory in Ha-Mashamba.  In the past, accommodation offerings have included the Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge, Vevisa Lodge, and Acacia Park.

WaSH Scholars will typically be teamed with undergraduate students from the University of Venda, and students and faculty from both universities will take part in a formal orientation program immediately after their arrival.  Scholars will then begin their research experiences in their assigned teams.

A small number of opportunities are available at the University of Virginia.  For these cases, students will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia for their research experiences.

Research activities will involve laboratory and community-based research at the intersection of water, societal, and human health disciplines.  An overview of ongoing and future research projects is given here.


This program is open to undergraduate students currently majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines (including sociology, anthropology, and economics) or the health sciences.  Ideal applicants will have a strong interest in post-graduate studies in STEM disciplines and/or the health sciences, have undergraduate grade-point averages above 3.5, have prior international travel experience, and have demonstrated interest (through coursework, service, or work experience) in topics closely related to the WaSH program focus.  Applicants must be either citizens or permanent residents of the US or its territories.  We particularly encourage applicants from groups traditionally under-represented in STEM disciplines.

Note: If you will graduate in Spring 2015, you are NOT eligible for this program because you will not be an undergraduate student at the time of your field research.

Duration and Stipend

8 weeks during summer 2015, plus weekly hour-long virtual meetings with other team members during the 2014 Spring and Fall semesters.  WaSH Scholars will be onsite in South Africa or Charlottesville from mid-June to early August (exact dates will be determined at a later time).  WaSH Scholars will receive a $2000 stipend plus housing and travel expenses.

Deadline for Application

Applications for the 2014 REU, including letters of recommendation, are due by December 22nd, 2014 at 5 pm Eastern Standard Time.  Students will be notified of their selection on or before February 21st, 2015.

Water, Society, and Health