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NIST Professional Research Experience Program (PREP)

About the Program

Created by NIST Boulder in 1991, the Professional Research Experience Program (PREP) is designed to provide valuable laboratory experience and financial assistance to undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and facultyThe program is intended to assure continued growth and progress of a highly skilled science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) workforce in the United States.

PREP is a 5-year cooperative agreement between NIST laboratories and participating PREP Universities to establish a collaborative research relationship between NIST and U.S. institutions of higher education in the following disciplines including (but may not be limited to) biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, engineering, electronics, materials science, mathematics, nanoscale science, neutron science, physical science, physics, and statistics.

PREP Brochure

Participating NIST Laboratories and User Facilities

PREP researchers contribute to on-going research in the NIST laboratories at PREP Boulder (operating on the Boulder, Colorado site) or PREP Gaithersburg (operating at the Gaithersburg, Maryland and Charleston, South Carolina sites).  You are encouraged to visit the laboratory's webpages to learn about the multi-disciplinary nature of the NIST laboratories and laboratory facilities.

Participating PREP Universities

PREP operates  two distinct sub-programs. The following PREP universities were selected based on the criteria mentioned in the  Notice of Funding Opportunity 

PREP Boulder 

  • Brown University

  • Colorado School of Mines

  • University of Colorado Boulder

  • University of Colorado Denver

PREP Gaithersburg 

  • Brown University

  • Georgetown University

  • JUMBO Consortium (Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University, and State University of New York Binghamton)

  • Montgomery College

  • Towson University

  • University of the District of Columbia

  • University of Maryland College Park

PREP Researcher Appointments

PREP is a competitive program and driven by demand of the NIST laboratories. Generally, the request starts with  NIST having an opportunity and funding for a researcher. NIST partners with the PREP Universities to advertise and recruit for the appointments.  

As required by the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), PREP researchers are required to be affiliated with a participating university. PREP appointments occur by the following mechanisms:

  • Recruitment by a participating university for a NIST opportunity
  • Proposal of a research opportunity which aligns with the NIST mission and  skillset to a NIST scientist directly.

PREP Researcher Categories

Following are the categories of researchers that can be appointed by the PREP Universities:

  • Undergraduates

  • Post-Bachelor’s Degree

  • Graduate Students

  • Master’s Degree Holders

  • Postdocs

  • Research faculty

    Still have questions? See the FAQ's  or send an e-mail to prep [at] (subject: PREP%20Inquiry)

    NIST PREP Program

    Five of the PREP postdocs currently working in MML on the Gaithersburg campus (from left): Jasjeet Bhullar, Sarah Robinson, Caglar Emiroglu, Adam Hannon and Huong Giang Nguyen.

    Credit: Jason Stoughton/NIST
    Created May 30, 2017, Updated January 4, 2022