Welcome to the NSF-supported International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) Track 1 Program, Soft Matter Research Experience for North Carolina Graduate Students in Dresden!


A cohort of approximately eight PhD students from NC State, Duke, and UNC Chapel Hill will be accepted for the Summer 2024 NSF-supported IRES Track 1 Program, Soft Matter Research Experience for North Carolina Graduate Students in Dresden, Germany (with future opportunities in Summer 2025 and 2026). The Summer 2024 cohort will travel to and live together in Dresden to do soft matter research with different hosts but with a common academic and social program. Projects* are proposed by hosts at the Dresden University of Technology (Technische Universität Dresden = TUD) and associated research institutes, referred to as TUD+. Benefits of participation in the IRES program include international research experience and exposure to a new research, social, and cultural environment. Previous experience with travel, study, or research abroad is not required, but independence and openness to experiencing a new environment and culture are needed. TUD+ has many international students and researchers, and all research activities will be conducted in English.

2024 Projects

*Note: The Projects page is password-protected. If you are a student at Duke, NC State, or UNC, you can request the password by submitting the request form below.


  • Application Deadline: November 17, 2023, at 11:59 pm Eastern
    • Selection for the cohort announced by mid-December, 2023
  • Dates – travel covered by the IRES program: Depart RDU Airport May 22, return July 31, 2024
  • Stipend: $600/week
  • Housing – provided by the IRES program: single apartments at the TUD International Guesthouse


IRES students will join different host research groups to work on the research project to which they are matched and will receive appropriate training, mentoring, supplies, and access to characterization facilities. The IRES experience includes a social program with PhD students from the host research groups and visits to other research institutes, sites of scientific and cultural interest, and a trip to Berlin. The cohort will be accompanied by one of the NC State / Duke / UNC campus contacts for the first 2-3 weeks of the program and will have weekly research meetings with the campus contacts (who will connect by Zoom after their return to the U.S.). At the end of the summer, IRES students will give talks in a research symposium. Some projects may lead to publications or opportunities for collaboration beyond the IRES program, but neither is expected. Participants who have no prior experience with the German language will be required to audit (or take for credit, if preferred), a first-semester German language course in Spring 2024. While not necessary for conducting research, a basic exposure to the German language and culture will help with daily living and understanding German society.

Program Logistics



  • PhD students from NC State, Duke, and UNC Chapel Hill are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions.
  • No prior travel or knowledge of the German language is required.
  • There is no preferred stage of the PhD program for participants in the IRES program.
  • We seek a diverse cohort, and PhD students of all ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
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