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Getting an REU

  • Thread starter lubuntu
  • Start date
I want to get an REU, how do i do this?

Obviously I'm a bit late for this year but I want to start working on stuff now that will make me stand out for one next year. I'd like to do it in astronomy or similar but any field is fine. I have solid programming skills(former CS major) and a good GPA at my current school. I have a dodgy academic past(before settling into my current school), but hopefully that won't even come up for REU's. What else can I do to look good and be competitive for a good REU next year?

Also, I should note my school has no Astronomy research available and very little in the way of physics either, its a pretty crappy school. Will that actually help me?
What do you mean by "will it actually help me?"? Are you asking if it would give you better chances to get an REU from your school? If so, I don't see why less physics research done in the school will help you have more opportunities.

Programming is almost always a decent asset when it comes to physics research nowadays. Go check out what type of languages you might have to conform to for a certain professor you are interested in working with in your school.

Staying in tuned with recent research will be adequate, I think. Just keep an open mind about interesting opportunities - a year is a lot of time for adjustment.
I'm not interested much in research at my school, I might try to do some once I get to junior year but I am more interested about Summer Reu's sponsored by the NSF in astronomy and astrophysics? I hope that clears up what I mean


I finally decided to Google REU and am now disgruntled. Appears to be an amazing oppurtunity; yet no UK equivalent? Pfft.
Amazing opportunity sure, but I thinking it's almost impossible to get in especially for a white male?
I applied to a bunch of REUs this year and ended up getting a position through SULI instead (DOE's intership program). So at least that's possible for a white male who goes to a small private university with few research opportunities. I also was rejected last summer (after my second year) by several REUs if that encourages anyone to try again...

I would say you should start applying early (and by that I mean start working on the applications earlier than you think because it took me a lot longer than I thought it would to get everything together) and apply to a lot of programs, even programs that aren't in exactly the field you're interested in. Also, get to know your professors as well as you can so they'll write you good recommendations.

Your programming experience will probably help you; I think the reason I got my internship is that I've been programming for a while and know LabVIEW fairly well. So definitely put the specific languages you know on the application if you can.


I did several REUs as an undergrad, and now as a grad student I helped review applications for our REU program. Having some previous research experience really helps. I did my first summer research project at a nearby university, then got into most of the REUs I applied for the next summer. So even if the topic doesn't interest you too much, pretend you're interested and get ready to work, and maybe you can get a job this summer at your school. Or ask your professors - there's a good chance they can hook up you with a prof at another university. When you do apply next year, build up any practical experience you got (programming, observing, experimentation, writing, presenting) and don't wax poetic about anything.
I applied to a bunch of REUs this year. I haven't heard from everywhere yet, but I have just been accepted to the SARA REU. I have no previous research experience, and a decent GPA. I am, however, attending a school that has a fairly solid physics department. I also applied fairly late. I got most of my materials in right at the earliest program deadlines.

I would say that you should do as well as you can in your classes. When you write up your applications, don't flower it up, and always keep your audience in mind. Think about what they want to know, and write only that.
I finally decided to Google REU and am now disgruntled. Appears to be an amazing oppurtunity; yet no UK equivalent? Pfft.
Don't they offer internships at various UK unis? I applied to University College, London's international scholarship program and it seemed like they had stuff for domestic students, too.
They definitely aren't for everyone. I did an REU at Duke University in 2001 and absolutely hated it. In my opinion, working for a professor at your university is much more worthwhile. The professor I was paired up with at Duke seemed totally disinterested in doing anything with me. The other students spent most of their time getting drunk and playing volleyball. It was a real disappointment.

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