Science CollabWe invite formerly incarcerated students with an interest in computational analysis and public health to apply to this program. Our goal is to expand STEM training and computational exposure to historically disadvantaged students in public K-12 education with limited exposure to computing during incarceration.

The program will incorporate faculty mentors from various departments at Yale University, including the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the School of Public Health.


This NSF REU Training Site offers support to formerly incarcerated undergraduate students interested in infectious disease research using computational tools.


The program welcomes formerly incarcerated students in good standing in math and STEM courses. Community college students are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents.


Applicants must be currently enrolled in a community or undergraduate college, be interested in STEM research and public health, and be a US citizen or permanent resident. REU interns will be assigned a graduate student mentor on a faculty team.

Intern accepted to this program will receive:

  • a laptop
  • a $700/week stipend along with a meal and travel stipend
  • Housing near Yale campus in New Haven, CT (at no cost to the student)

All participants must complete the 10-week program with a full-time commitment - meaning no other employment or class obligations during the program.

Dates: May 28-Aug 2, 2024.

All applicants much have health insurance coverage. If you need access to short-term insurance in CT, contact the Co-PI Dr. Tanaka for information.

Applicants under supervision should contact Dr. Tanaka to discuss their application further:

Application Requirements

  • Application
  • Current transcript
  • Proof of citizenship or permanent resident
  • Two letters of recommendation, one from a STEM professor
  • Proof of health insurance

Program Activities:

The first week will be a ‘boot camp’ to introduce students to computational data analysis and public health. Students will select a faculty-led project in this week and the following nine weeks will have a morning computational tools class with afternoon research.

Evenings will provide time for homework and group interactions.

Faculty from public health and STEM disciplines will give informal lunch seminars. Students will enjoy lunch meetings on such topics as responsible conduct, resume building, academic opportunities, and ways to explore careers in public health and computational science.

Additional activities include: preparing research posters and presentations, weekend outings around the East Coast, including a trip to New York city.

Final Research Conference:

At the conclusion of the program, students will join in a joint research conference with REU students from other programs in Connecticut.

Tips on who and how to ask for a recommendation letter

  1. Don’t ask just any science teacher. The teacher should know you well and know your work. Faculty need to comment on your work ethic, your focus and motivation, and your ability to work with others as in lab groups or class presentations. In other words: do you show up?
  2. Consider in advance what you want the recommender to say? For an academic program, you want to ask a professor or teacher in the field you are applying to. For a STEM program, ask a math or science teacher.
  3. Don’t worry about the grade you got in the class if you worked hard, learned a lot, and visited the professor for help when you were stuck. Teachers will speak to your diligence and growth over the semester.
  4. In your request, try language like: “Dear Dr. _________. I was in your __________ class in the fall of 2022. Although my final grade was a B, I worked hard and learned a lot during the semester. I am applying for an NSF REU summer research fellowship at Yale University. Would you be able to write a strong recommendation letter for me before the deadline of April 1?” Tell them the focus of the program or send them a link to its website. Most professors will be honest and, if they cannot write a strong letter, they will either tell you so directly or decline due to their own time constraints. Regardless, should they decline, simply move on to another teacher.
  5. Be sure you provide both the due date and the submission instructions (including relevant links) to the teacher. Good idea to send email reminders well before the deadline. If you don’t get confirmation from that teacher, ask another faculty member. Remember: it will not hurt if you have three letters, but having just one means your application will not be considered.
  6. If you have questions about your recommendations, send an email to Dr. Tanaka and she can advise you.


C. Brandon Ogbunu

PI, Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University
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Jacqueline Tanaka

CO-PI, Associate Director of STEM Student Success at Yale University
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