SETI REU and REU's in General

  • Thread starter lubuntu
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  • #1
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For various reason I really really want to do the SETi reu program in one of the next two summer. If you are familiar with my past you my academic background is shaky. How can I best pinpoint target a single REU for chance at success? Has anyone on here done the SETI REU?

I want to apply for next summer but I am worried because:

a. I've yet to put down a few really solid semesters that will look impressive. My individual grades in important classes are mostly very good but there is a lot of stuff that might give reviewer a double take without some more solid evidence of my talents.

b. I'm just transferring to a new school and really don't have any professors to write any meaningful recommendations about me. The best I have is a professor who I had taken Calc II & III with for a B+ and an A.

Does this mean I'll have to wait another year for a chance at an REU?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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It can't hurt to apply. Maybe we'll both be accepted and I'll see you this summer. This was one of the 5 summer programs I'm considering applying for. I've already applied for one. When the information comes out in early December for the SETI REU, I plan to apply for that one if one of the positions looks promising.
 
  • #3
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It can't hurt to apply. Maybe we'll both be accepted and I'll see you this summer. This was one of the 5 summer programs I'm considering applying for. I've already applied for one. When the information comes out in early December for the SETI REU, I plan to apply for that one if one of the positions looks promising.

Thanks Jack, good luck to you as well. Which areas of SETI are you most interested in?
 
  • #4
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I agree with Jack, there is no reason why you shouldn't apply. I've known a few kids between their freshman and sophomore years getting into REUs. Many applications will not have extremely strong letters of recommendation. One stated goal for REUs is to give students a chance to do research, especially those from small liberal arts colleges, where their department might not have the same opportunities as a larger school.
 
  • #5
eri
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Having done several REUs myself, and then worked as a mentor for a few, I can tell you that one of the best things you can put on your application is previous research experience. Go ahead and apply for them, maybe you'll get lucky, but also try to find someone at your school who might be wiling to give you some research experience next summer. It looks good to have previous research experience, it looks good to have used up the opportunities at your own school first, and it will help to have a research adviser write you a letter.
 
  • #6
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How about directly contacting the scientists I would be interested in working with? Is that considered too intrusive?

I frankly feel like I have abysmal chances at getting an REU outside of the one at my home school, which I will probably do one of the next two summers. I am a white male with a shady academic background up until the last year or so. I want to do something to stand out even slightly. I will probably be doing some research work during the Spring semester with a professor at my new school but it will be too late by then for a put it on my resume or get a recommendation for this summer.
 
  • #7
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That is fine, any research work will be good for you. I did one REU in the summer before my senior year. Before that, I was floating on an average GPA (~3.5) and I had no research activity. But I had just taken a numerical methods class which focused on programming, so I knew C and MATLAB fairly well. I feel it was this programming skill that eventually got me into the REU. So if you get rejected this year, you can work on your marketable skills and simply try to do research at your home university.
 
  • #8
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How about directly contacting the scientists I would be interested in working with? Is that considered too intrusive?

Possibly, depending on how you do it. Something that is obviously a form letter shotgunned out to a large number of scientists is unlikely to get much attention. Or, for that matter, unlikely to leave the spam folder.

I think you also have to be a little realistic about prospects. There aren't many scientists out there that are saying, "if only I had an undergraduate with a shady academic background".
 
  • #9
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Possibly, depending on how you do it. Something that is obviously a form letter shotgunned out to a large number of scientists is unlikely to get much attention. Or, for that matter, unlikely to leave the spam folder.

I think you also have to be a little realistic about prospects. There aren't many scientists out there that are saying, "if only I had an undergraduate with a shady academic background".

My background is shady in the sense I did really poorly years ago in gen eds and have also racked up a lot of withdrawals. I've also changed schools like 5 times, but this was during a period where school was part-time and I was working and not part of a degree program or anything. My grades in Physics and Math are all B+ or A, besides a C+ in Intro Mechanics lab where they had some messed up grading scheme that they even admitted was done wrong by the next semester.

Frankly, I don't even know how to convey this information to an REU program since my background is awkward. I'm sure they are mostly used to dealing with people who have taken a more traditional route. I don't know what they would make of me.

I do have a stronger programming background than probably 90% of other applicants from spending a few years taking CS classes and working in the IT industry. If I could leverage that somehow...

I wouldn't send out a shotgun email but rather really try to find a handful of people whose work I'd really like to get involved with.
 
  • #10
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Slight bump, applications are now open for this particular REU. Are you applying, lubuntu? I just sent my application in a few minutes ago.
 

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