Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Program

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What is the RET Program?

The Research Experience for Teachers (RET) is an intensive professional development program where we place middle and high school science teachers in Material Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) laboratories for seven weeks. During this program, you will get hands-on experience doing cutting-edge research and use the tools, language, and practices of science while designing learning activities for your classroom. As a fellow, you will work under the direction of a principal investigator (PI) along with postdoctoral and graduate student mentors from the PI’s lab.

The program includes a $6,000 stipend and a $500 supplies budget to develop the classroom activity.

As an RET fellow, you will work at the UW-Madison campus in a MRSEC laboratory daily for seven weeks. Not only will you learn about the lab, their research goals, and their methods, you will also collaborate with other fellows both from Wisconsin and from Puerto Rico. You will collaborate with your research partners to design and develop an activity for your classroom that is inspired by the research happening in the lab. You will take part in research meetings, seminars from renowned researchers, and outreach events that will enable you to test your activities before bringing them into the classroom. After the program, you will implement the activities you designed in your own class. Our MRSEC staff will continue to work with you in your classrooms to document and evaluate your project’s effectiveness. Activities that work in the classroom will be made available to other teachers through MRSEC websites and initiatives.

The 2019 RET program will include the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico from July 29 to Aug 2 for a capstone week experience with our partners at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. During capstone week, RET participants will meet with teachers from the RET program in Puerto Rico, present their projects, and tour educational sites around the island. All capstone week expenses will be covered by the Wisconsin MRSEC.

The 2019 RET Program will begin June 17th and conclude on August 2nd.

RET Program Goals

1. We will provide science teachers with an authentic research experience
2. We will team up with teachers to create new science learning activities for youth inspired by MRSEC research

The MRSEC is an interdisciplinary group of researchers from diverse fields of science and engineering seeking to address critical gaps in our understanding of disordered materials and the emergence of order from disordered materials. In the Interdisciplinary Education Group, we use examples of nanotechnology and advanced materials to enhance public understanding of fundamental science and engineering concepts and to share the excitement and potential of these interdisciplinary fields with K-12 audiences and the general public.

How to Apply

To apply for the Summer 2019 program, please complete the below application by March 17, 2019:


In this application, you will be asked to provide a CV or resume and your reasons for wanting to join the program. Please contact the coordinator, Matthew Stilwell, with any questions at

Past RET Activities

RET Photos

RET cohort of 2018 RET fellows work on their activities RET fellows work on a lab activityRET fellows tour a research lab