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Undergraduate Opportunities

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Looking to have your own out-of-this-world research experience this summer?
Highlighted opportunities have deadlines less than two weeks away.
Know of an opportunity not mentioned here? Tell us about it via the contact form using the ✉ button in the top right!

Best wishes for a stellar application!

AMNH Division of Physical Sciences REU

Students have the opportunity to work at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in either Astrophysics or Earth and Planetary Sciences in New York, NY. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled in a two- or four-year undergraduate program during the summer of the research experience.

Past astrophysics projects at the AMNH have included simulating galaxy gas halos, studying neutral hydrogren gas in low-mass dwarf galaxies, and using the Cosmological Evolution Survey (COSMOS).

Application Materials

  • Online application form

Deadline: around February 6

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the AMNH REU website.

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Arecibo Observatory REU Summer Program

Students have the opportunity to work for 10 weeks at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled in a bachelors degree program at the time of the REU in order to be funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Non-U.S. citizens are also welcome to apply provided they have their own funding.

Students will work on projects related radio astronomy, solar system radar, atmospheric science, or electrical engineering alongside staff scientists. In addition to their projects, students will also be encouraged to attend lectures by staff and visiting scientists, seminar series, tours of the observatory facilities, and frequent informal discussions with scientists, as well as have the opportunity to observe using the Arecibo 305 meter telescope.

The Arecibo Observatory generally hires students studying astronomy, physics, computer science, or electrical engineering. All applicants should have a strong mathematics or computing background.

Application Materials
  • Online application form
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) or resumé
  • Copy of official transcript
  • Personal essay
  • Letters of recommendation (3)

Deadlines: January 25 (online application) and February 1, 2018 (supporting documents)

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the Arecibo REU website.

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Kitt Peak National Observaotry REU

Students have the opportunity to work as research assistants for 10 to 12 weeks at the Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Tucson, AZ. The KPNO is a division of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

During the summer, research assistants, are hired full-time to work on research projects related to stellar evolution, galaxies, stellar systems, observational cosmology, analysis of Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope images, and Kepler Mission light curves.

Application Materials

  • Applicant information
  • Official transcript(s)
  • Letters of recommendation (2)

Deadline: around January 30

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the KPNO REU website.

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LIGO SURF Program

Students have the opportunity to participate in the 10-week Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasedena, CA. Students may also work at observatory sites in Hanford, WA, or Livingston Parish, LA. Applicants must be enrolled in an bachelors program at the time of the SURF and have completed at least one year of introductory physics, but they need not be U.S. citizens to be considered. Applications open in early December each year.

Students will work alongside Caltech faculty, postdocs, graduate students, scientific and engineering staff members, and expert visitors to research gravitational waves, astrophysics, and high-precision metrology. Projects range from laboratory-based to modeling and software-development. In addition to research, students will also develop good communication skills through progress reports, a final technical paper, and a final presentation.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Unofficial transcript(s)
  • Letters of reccommendation (2)

Deadline: February 4, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the LIGO SURF Program website.

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LSU REU in Physics & Astronomy

The Louisiana State University Department of Physics & Astronomy hosts students to experience research-oriented careers and develop research-related skills and knowledge. Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate program at the time of the REU, have completed the introductory physics sequence before the program, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

During the 10-week summer program, REU participants will have the opportunity to attend weekly seminars, go on field trips, and attend workshops in addition to working on their research projects. There will also be several social events, including ones where participants can meet REU students in other departments.

Application Materials

  • Application form (to be submitted by post
  • Self-statement
  • Letters of reference (2-3, all from faculty)

Deadline: February 1, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the LSU REU website. You can also find the LSU REU program on Facebook.

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MIT Haystack Observatory REU

Students have the opportunity to work for 10 weeks at MIT Haystack Observatory in Westford, MA, 40 miles northwest of Boston. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents pursuing a bachelors degree. Graduating seniors are not eligible to apply.

Students will work with research staff on topics spanning astronomy and atmospheric sciences. Projects planned for the summer program are posted on the REU website before the Thanksgiving prior to the application deadlien. In addition to research, Haystack Observatory hosts seminars (presented at the introductory level) to participating students. Students will also have the opportunity to tour nearby facilities (both on- and off-site), attend group meetings, prepare a final report and present a seminar, and attend conferences (as funds are available).

Applicants studying science, engineering, and computer science are invited to apply. Research at Haystack Observatory includes radio astronomy, geodesy, atmospheric science, and instrumentation development for radiometry, interferometry, and radar systems.

Application Materials

  • Letter addressed to "Director, MIT Haystack Observatory"
  • Online application form
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) or resumé
  • Unofficial transcript(s)
  • Letters of recommendation (2)

Deadline: February 1, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the MIT Haystack Observatory REU website.

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NASA Internships

Students have the opportunity to work at any one of NASA's facilities across the U.S. Research experiences take place during the summer, fall, or spring terms, or may span an academic year or an irregular period (e.g. March through July, spanning spring and summer). Students must be U.S. citizens to apply.

Internship opportunities are available for students of all academic backgrounds, and internships may involve scientific research, public outreach (from writing articles to working at a visitors center), statistics, technical writing, or a combination of several of these types of work, and more. Applicants may select up to 15 research opportunities per session at any NASA site using one application generated through NASA's One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI). All student interns will be paired with a mentor to oversee their internship for the duration of the program.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Letter of recommendation (1)
  • Up to 15 preferred opportunities
  • Unofficial transcript(s) to be uploaded in OSSI

Deadlines

  • Summer: March 2 preceding session
  • Fall: May 31 preceding session
  • Spring: November 9 preceding session
  • Yearlong/Miscellaneous: Rolling deadline

  • It is advised that interested students submit applications in advance of the deadline; NASA may offer positions before the application deadline has passed.

For more information about internship, scholarship, and fellowship opportunities, visit the NASA Office of Education Infrastructure Division (OEID) Launchpad. To search or apply for internship opportunities, visit NASA's One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI) website.

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NRAO Summer Student Research Assistantships

Students have the opportunity to work for 10-12 weeks at one of the three NRAO facilities: Charlottesville, VA (NRAO headquarters onsite at the University of Virginia); Socorro, NM (home of the Very Large Array); Green Bank, WV (home of the Green Bank Telescope). Research experiences at the NRAO are either supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) or by the observatory itself. Unlike many research opportunities for university students, the NRAO is open to international students and graduated seniors in addition to U.S. citizens.

Research topics range from engineering (including building telescope hardware) to astrophysics. In addition to research, students are often invited/encouraged to attend lectures by visiting scientists, tour research facilities, and participate in other observatory activities. Examples from Green Bank (2013) include lectures during summer schools, presentations to the West Virginia Governor's School for Math & Science, tours of onsite workshops and engineering facilties, visit to the top of the Green Bank Telescope, visit to and tour of Charlottesville site, making a mountain biking trail, volunteering for the Space Race Rumpus cycling and music festival, and a company picnic.

Applicants must be eligble to work in the U.S., but are not required to be U.S. citizens. Students with backgrounds in astronomy, physics, engineering, computer science, or mathematics, as well as an interest in astronomy research, are preferred. Applications typically open in November.

Application Materials

  • Online application form *
  • Unofficial transcript(s) in PDF format to be uploaded at end of application form
  • Letters of recommendation (3)
  • *Applicants are unable to save and return to application at later time, therefore be sure to have your unofficial transcript(s) at the time of application.

Deadline: February 1, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the NRAO Summer Student Research Assistantships website.

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NSO REU Program

Students have the opportunity to do research for 10 to 12 weeks at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) at one of three sites: Tucson, AZ; Boulder, CO; or Sunspot, NM. Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate program at the time of the REU and must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

During the NSO REU program, which is administered through CU Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric Space Physics, students will be paired with a mentor scientist to do research in solar physics, solar-terrestrial physics, solar-stellar physics, or instrumentation. In addition to research, students will have the opportunity to participate in social events, excursions, and interactions with other NSO summer students and visitors.

Applicants do not need to be Astronomy majors, although they should demonstrate an interest in the feild.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Essay (250-270 words) describing research interests and experience
  • Unofficial transcript(s)
  • Letters of recommendations (2)

Deadline: January 29, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the NSO REU website.

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Northern Arizona University Astronomy REU

Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, AZ, hosts seven undergraduates to work with researchers for ten weeks in the summer. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at the time of the REU.

Students are paired with researchers from the NAU Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Lowell Observatory, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the National Undergraduate Research Observatory Consortium. Projects cover a range of areas, including planetary science, astrogeology, stellar astrophysics, instrumentation work, and extragalactic research. In addition to research, students are enrolled at NAU and receive three hours of credit (tuition and fees are covered by the REU program). Students are also required to attend seminar series twice a week. All students will also have the opportunity to visit local scientific facilities, observe on local telescopes, and receive funding to present results of their projects at a scientific meeting the following year.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Unofficial transcript(s)
  • Letters of reference (2)

Deadline: January 31, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the Northern Arizona University Astronomy REU website.

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Purdue University REU

The Department of Physics at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, offers students the opportunity to work on a forefront research project during the summer. Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate program at the time of the REU.

Research areas offered during the Purdue REU summer program include astrophysics, high energy physics, nuclear physics, and many other areas within the discipline. In addition to working on a research project with a faculty member, students will also present their research twice to faculty and fellow participants. Students will also learn about other areas in physics during weekly pizza seminars and will be able to participate in other activities, such as hiking, canoeing, and the Notre Dame REU Olympics. After the end of the program, students may have the opportunity to continue their work from their home institution or present at a national or regional conference.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Unofficial transcript(s)
  • Letters of reference (2)

Deadline: February 10, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the Purdue REU website.

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SAO REU Summer Intern Program

Students have the opportunity to work for 10 weeks at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, MA. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents pursuing a bachelors degree. Graduating seniors are not eligble to apply.

Throughout the duration of the internship program, students will do astrophysics research with Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO)/Harvard scientists. Students will be housed in dormitories on Harvard's campus, a short trip via public transportation to downtown Boston. In addition to research, students are encouraged to attend lectures, participate in discussion meetings (topics include research ethics), and take advantage of career development opportunities.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Unofficial transcript(s) in PDF format to be uploaded at end of application
  • Letters of recommendation (2)

Deadline: January 31, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the SAO REU Summer Intern Program website.

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STScI Space Astronomy Summer Program

Each summer, a dozen students have the opportunitiy to participate in the 9- to 10-week Space Astronomy Summer Program (SASP) at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, MD. Students of any citizenship are eligible to apply given that they are enrolled in a bachelors or equivalent program at a U.S. or foreign institution.

Goals of the SASP are to expose undergraduates to forefront research in astrophysics as well as a space-based observatory; give participants opportunities for growth, achievement, and personal development; and place students in a network of peers and colleagues for their future. A variety of projects are available to achieve these goals, and past students have worked in science writing, astronomical artwork, video production (2D and 3D), outreach projects, and applications for public use in addition to data reduction and interpretation. Students also have the opportunity to attend lectures on topics related to space astronomy, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope.

Applicants should be able to work independently, have confidence in their personal limits, know when to ask for help, and have a strong grounding in astronomy, mathematics, or physics.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Essay (500-1000 words)
  • Letters of recommendation (2)

Deadline: January 31, 2018 (Reference letters due by February 9, 2018)

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the STScI SASP website.

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UC-Boulder LASP REU Program

Students have the opportunitiy to participate in summer research at the University of Colorado (UC) Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). At the time of application, students should have sophomore or junior undergraduate status. Applicants do not need to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to apply, but funding is more limited to international students.

Participants in the LASP REU program will work with scientists at UC's LASP. Other sites include the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) High Altitude Observatory (HAO), NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), North West Research Associates (NWRA), Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), and Atmospheric & Space Technology Resarch Associates (ASTRA). Projects are related to research in solar and space physics.

In addition to research, students will participate in a summer school in solar and space physics. Throughout the summer, students are also encouraged to attend seminars. At the end of the summer, participants will present the results of their projects.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Unofficial transcript(s)
  • Letters of reference (3)

Deadline: January 29, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the LASP REU website.

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University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy REU

The Institute for Astronomy (IfA) at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa offers about 10 summer research assistantships. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled in a bachelors program.

Students will engage in 10 weeks of research with professional astronomers working on problems in astrophysics, including those related to solar physics, planetary astronomy, astrobiology, stars, the interstellar medium and star formation, galactic formation and evolution, and cosmology. In addition to their research projects at the IfA on Oahu, students will also observe using telescopes at the Mauna Kea (Hawaii) or Haleakala (Maui) Observatories.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Letters of recommendation (2)

Deadline: February 1, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the IfA REU website.

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Vanderbilt REU in Physics & Astronomy

Vanderbilt University near downtown Nashville, TN, hosts students for its REU in Physics & Astronomy for ten weeks over the summer. Applicants must be rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors (graduating seniors should contact the coordinator to ask about eligibility) as well as U.S. citizens or permanent residents to receive stipend benefits.

Research areas for summer students cover a range of subfields, including astrophysics and particle physics.

Application Materials

  • Online application form
  • Unofficial transcript(s)
  • Letters of reference (2)

Deadline: February 9, 2018

For more information about how to apply, stipend benefits, and housing, visit the Vanderbilt REU website.

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Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, named for Senator Goldwater from Arizona, aims to foster and encourage excellence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The scholarship was established to alleviate shortages of highly qualified professionals in STEM fields, and today it provides a continuing source of individuals to those fields of academic study and research.

Eligibility

Applicants must be undergraduates; be enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education full-time; hold U.S. citizenship, permanent residency, or national status; and have “outstanding potential and intend to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.” They are also expected to pursue advanced degrees (e.g. MS, PhD). Academic requirements include a grade-point average (GPA) of at least B (3.0/4.0 or equivalent) and the applicant being in the upper fourth of their class.

Applicants apply either as sophomores (to receive a two-year scholarship for their junior and senior years) or juniors (to receive a one-year scholarship for their senior year). All applicants must be nominated and endorsed by their home institutions.

Benefits

Goldwater Scholars receive up to $7,500 annually toward eligible expenses, including tuition, fees, books, and room and board. With prior approval, the scholarship (the payment of which is based on costs at the home institution) can also be used toward study abroad programs.

Nomination

To be nominated by your home institution, contact your Faculty Representative. Applications cannot be accepted directly from students.

Application Materials

  • Institution nomination
  • Application form
  • Recommendations (3)
  • Essay (see tips below)
  • Official transcript(s)
  • (For non-U.S. citizens) Letter of intent to become U.S. citizen

Student application deadline: last Friday in January

Application Timeline

  • September: Application becomes available
  • January: Application and materials due
  • February: Scholarship Review Committee makes recommendations
  • mid-March: Board of Trustees approves recommendations
  • late-March: Announcements of Scholars and Honorable Mentions

Writing the Goldwater essay

On the Goldwater Scholarship website, you will find Applicant Information and Instructions, which include regulations and a prompt for the essay portion of the application. The prompt portion of these guidelines reads:

Your essay should discuss a significant issue or problem in your field of study that is of particular interest to you. Your essay must include a description of the issue or problem, discuss an idea for research that could have significant impact on the issue or problem, describe an aspect of the research in which you would be involved, and explain the relevance of the issue or problem to you as a mathematician, scientist, or engineer. The content and style of your essay will be important to the success of your scholarship application. Assume that your reader is knowledgeable in mathematics, science, and engineering, and will have the expertise to read, review, and understand the complexities of your field of specialty. If your essay involves research in which you are or were involved, please indicate if you are or were the sole researcher or if you collaborated with another individual.

The essay is perhaps the most important part of the Goldwater application; it is your opportunity to show the review committee who you are as a STEM student and who you have the potential to be as a graduate. Applicants are expected to be lifelong scientists and pursue graduate study, hence demonstrate a passion for research is imperative. As the prompt calls, applicants should also show understanding of a problem that interests them, giving insight to the potential the applicant has as a lifelong researcher.

When preparing your essay, consider the following:

  • Be creative. Briefly introduce your field of interest (especially if it is a less-well-known discipline, e.g. astrochemistry) in a way that gives the reader a sense of what scientists in your field accomplish beyond what can be found in a dictionary or Wikipedia entry. Is your field interdisciplinary? If so, consider describing how that field bridges other fields. What types of questions does your field answer? Frame your field as asking a question that anyone, including those who have little interest in your field, would be curious about. Introduce your field as if you are advertising it. Think of a way to capture the review committee's attention, making them believe that the problem in which you are interested is something they want to learn about before you even describe it.
  • Add you to the essay. After all, it is you who are applying and not merely the problem you wish to resolve. How did you find out about this field? What research have you done (if any)? How do you see yourself contributing to the advancement of this research?
  • Do your research. While citing journal articles is not a requirement for the essay, doing so will demonstrate that you have developed the content of your essay based on current research and that you are serious about the problem at hand. Also, include figures, especially when they help your reader visualize the topic of your essay.
  • Format your essay as if it were a journal article in your field of interest. If articles in your discipline are usually printed in two columns, format yours the same way. Use headings, figure captions, and citations as if you were submitting an article to a peer-reviewed journal. Not only will your essay look more professional, but it will show that you have dabbled enough in the field as an undergraduate to at least know how research is presented.
  • Have fun. While your essay should be formal, don't be afraid to put yourself into it. For instance, describing the field of astrochemistry, I ended my introduction by saying that I was committed to pursuing "out-of-this-world" research. Being silly may not be advisable (I was determined to keep this pun in nonetheless), but you should be able to freely describe what excites you in your field without feeling immense pressure. The review committee knows that you are not an expert and that you may have limited experience or knowledge. Therefore, don't stress out about writing a scientific, peer-reviewed masterpiece. Relax and show that you are dedicated to pursuing a problem. (Also, remember that this is not a contract! Talk about what interests you now, even if you aren't sure that it will interest you for life.)

For more information about the scholarship and how to apply, visit the Goldwater Scholarship website.

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Brooke Owens Fellowship Program

The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program, named for space industry pioneer and accomplished pilot Dawn Brooke Owens, aims to both inspire and boost the careers of young women aspiring to enter the aviation or aerospace industry. The fellowship involves a summer internship at a partner organization, mentoring by leaders in the community (one mentor from the host company and another from elsewhere), and networking at the Brooke Owens Fellowship Summit and through ongoing communication with program founders, mentors, host companies, supporters, and alumni.

Eligibility

Applicants must be women pursuing the equivalent of an undergraduate degree with the intention of pursuing a full-time career in the aviation or aerospace industry. Women of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds are encouraged to apply. International (non-U.S. Citizen or permanent resident) applicants are welcome.

Benefits

  1. Summer internship at a leading organization in the aerospace industry, complete with living wage in addition to work on a project and acquiring new skills.
  2. Mentorship by two senior- or executive-level leaders in the industry, one at the host organization and one from another company in the industry.
  3. Participation in the summer Brooke Owens Fellowship Summit, which includes team projects, one-on-one mentoring sessions, and private Q&A sessions with congresswomen, astronauts, CEOs, and company founders.
  4. Ongoing inclusion in the Brooke Owens Fellowship network, including program founders, mentors, host companies, supporters, and alumni.

Application Materials

  • Written essay (<1000 words) response to prompt of choice
  • Multimedia response to prompt of choice
  • Online application form
  • Resume/CV
  • Current college transcript
  • 2-4 letters of recommendation (at least one from faculty member at your college or university)

Student application deadline: December 5

Timeline

  • early December: Application and materials due
  • mid- to -late December: Most highly qualified candidates undergo phone interviews
  • early January: Finalists notified
  • mid-January: Finalists interview with potential host organization(s)
  • late January:
  • Announcement of Fellows and matched Host Institutions

For more information about the scholarship and how to apply, visit the Brooke Owens Fellowship website.

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