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Summer Research in Theory

  1. Oct 6, 2011 #1
    Hi guys,

    Does anyone know of any programs in physics that offers a chance for undergraduate research in theory, or some summer project in theory? I know the Perimeter institute offers a program for undergraduates and from what i've seen a few REUs will offer positions in theory, but besides that I'm not really knowledgable.

    Of course I understand there are going to be a lot less opportunities in theory simply because its too advanced and complicated for undergraduates.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 6, 2011 #2
    This question seems to come up frequently - I think a good opportunity to do this is the SURF program at Caltech. You have a lot more freedom than at most REU type programs since you work out what you will be doing with the professor you want to work with before you even apply (but of course that aspect makes it more difficult to apply). But I knew a number of undergraduates who spent the entire summer doing 'pencil and paper' theoretical work, myself included, so it is certainly not impossible.

    Another program that this is possible at is the math REU at Georgia Tech - again, you choose the professor you work with and come up with a project before you even apply (though this is not strictly necessary like it is for the Caltech SURF, it just helps your application a lot). But there are many mathematical physicists in the department, so even though it is a math program you can do physics work.

    These are just the only two programs I am familiar with - there are probably others out there, but I thought I'd mention them since I had the same goal as you a couple of years ago and they worked out for me.
  4. Oct 6, 2011 #3
  5. Oct 6, 2011 #4


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    Any REU in physics could potentially be in theory, even if it's not billed as a theoretical program.
  6. Oct 7, 2011 #5
    Thanks for the links, I was planning on applying to REU and SULI programs, but I wasn't sure if there were any opportunities in theory (gravity or particle, shouldve been more specific before but I'm open minded about research). It seemed like the vast majority of people work in the lab.

    Monocles: I heard about the SURF program but because its so open ended I couldn't find much specific information about it. If you don't mind, do you know how the percentage breaks down field wise? Did anyone do work in gravity or particle theory and are there very many students not from Caltech. You can private message me if you prefer. Thanks!
  7. Oct 7, 2011 #6
    I'm certainly interested in this question as well. By the end of this year I would have had Quantum I and II, Classical Mechanics, E&M 1, GR and PDEs under my belt. Would that allow me to get some non-trivial theoretical work in research during the summer?
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