Application Instructions and Deadline:

A complete 2020 application includes: 1) an application form through our Google Forms and 2) submission of a personal statement (limited to 3 double-spaced pages) to

The application link for undergraduates can be found in our Google Form at REU Undergraduate Application Form.

The application link for K-12 in-service teachers can be found in our Google Form at RET K-12 In-Service Teacher Application Form.

For undergraduate students applying to the REU Site, including pre-service students enrolled in an undergraduate program, the 3-page personal statement must include: 1) a description of research interests, including how international work fits into these interests; 2) an explanation of what it means to engage in community research and education in a developing country; and 3) a discussion of post-graduation plans.

For K-12 in-service teachers applying to the RET Site, the 3-page personal statement must include: 1) a description of education interests, including how international work fits into these interests; 2) an explanation of what it means to engage in community research and education in a developing country; and 3) a discussion of how you and your students might benefit from lessons and data created in the program.

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Potential candidates may be contacted for a follow-up video interview within one month of the priority application deadline. If selected for an interview, the applicant will be asked to submit unofficial transcripts and a reference letter.

What type of students and K-12 teachers do we want in our REU and RET Site?  We want people with the following traits:

  • a passion for community-based research and education
  • a desire to engage in a life-changing international field research and education experience
  • a strong and creative work ethic a willingness to challenge yourself, while having fun, and being committed to collaborative learning
  • an interest in living in Belize for the majority of the summer
  • a desire to learn more about all aspects of research and education
  • a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, learn about yourself, and challenge your world views

Application Process: The application process for the UCF Community Geography and GIS REU and RET Site is based on a highly competitive, nationwide search of talented U.S. undergraduate students and U.S. K-12 teachers.  Previous coursework in geography, GIS and related disciplines is not required.  For undergraduates students, there is no minimum GPA requirement, but preference will be given to students with a 3.0 or higher GPA and who demonstrate significant potential for succeeding in a collaborative international research experience. For K-12 teachers, preference will be given from teachers who teach in high-needs school districts. No previous international field experience is required and foreign language skills are not necessary as Belize is an English speaking country.

Targeted Disciplines: Given the multi-disciplinary appeal of community geography, citizen science and GIS, students and K-12 teachers in the disciplines below are likely to find this program most appealing, though we welcome applications from students and teachers across any and all relevant disciplines:

  • geography
  • sociology
  • science education
  • social studies education
  • marine/water sciences
  • environmental studies/policy programs
  • anthropology
  • planning
  • public health
  • biology
  • public polict
  • other STEAM-infused disciplines

Commitment to Broadening Participation: The UCF REU and RET Site is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion of students and teachers from all socio-demographic backgrounds. We strive for inclusion of women, minorities, veterans, persons with disabilities and first-generation college students from underrepresented groups. We especially encourage students from institutions that lack similar international research programs (e.g., non-research institutions, liberal arts schools, tribal colleges, community colleges, minority serving institutions, and historically black colleges and universities).

Applicant Requirement and Citizenship Status: If applying to the REU Site, each applicant must be an undergraduate enrolled in a college or university in the United States in the fall of 2020. Students graduating prior to the start of the UCF REU Site are not eligible to apply.  If applying to the RET Site, the applicant must an in-service K-12 teacher in a U.S. school district. As a program funded by The National Science Foundation, each student and teacher must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to participate in the REU and RET Site.

Importance of the Personal Statement: The personal statement is the most important component of the application, so please give it some significant time and thought. The best personal statements will have a strong personal voice and demonstrate how your coursework and/or real-world experiences have prepared you for success in the Belize REU and RET Site.  When we read your statement we want to hear your passion about international work and community-based research and education.  Please be sure to proofread your statement and consider having another person provide feedback on it prior to submission.

Decision Timeline: Within one month of the priority application deadline, the PI and Co-PI will contact a short-list of applicants for video interviews. We will choose a cohort of at least 8 students and 2 teachers for the REU and RET Site, and create a ranked alternate list of 4 additional applicants.

If you have any questions about the UCF REU Site application process, please contact Dr. Timothy L. Hawthorne at