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Summer undergrad research position

  1. Jul 26, 2005 #1
    I am currently a junior dual major in ACS chemistry and professional physics and I am intererested in picking up an undergraduate research position in the summer. I am just curious what types of positions are in my league. I have a 3.3 GPA, which is kinda weak, but I hope to bring it up to around a 3.4 by the end of the Fall semester. I attend Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI and currently have no research experience.

    Would crazy schools like MIT and Cornell be completely out of my league? What about schools like UM ann arbor or Indiana University? The chair of the natural sciences program said he'd push hard to get me into a good program, and kept mentioning Indiana University, and he also said he could probably get me into a school like Hope College, which has an excellent undergraduate research program involving the interface between chem and physics. In fact, Hope was ranked number 4 in the country for undergrad research a couple years ago, ranked among schools like MIT, and UM. The chair of the natsci program told me he was the Ph.D advisor of the current head of the research program at Hope, so my chances of getting a spot there are pretty good I guess.

    I would like to get into research that is close to the interface between chemistry and physics.

    Any guidance would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2005 #2
    It depends on what you want to do. If you're interested in theory, as an undergrad you'll be pretty much out of your league anywhere you go. If experimental, then maybe not.

    Never underestimate yourself; it is always better to overextend your reach. I would say anyone here remembering their first research experience would say that they were completely overwhelmed and felt totally inadequate for the task.

    As for mixing chemistry and physics, I know at my school (Georgia Tech) one of the professors does a lot of stuff with chemical physics, silicas and all that. Look up the REU program and see what you think. If you don't like the hot weather or the research going on isn't up your alley, look around other REU programs. There are a ton of programs for undergraduate research if you just look.
  4. Jul 26, 2005 #3
    Well, the thing is I am not the greatest experimentalist...in fact, I am downright terrible....so I would like to focus on theoretical physics/chemistry.

    But an experimental summer research position would be a great experience to develop my lab skills.

    I just want to know what kinds of GPAs big time universities like MIT look for, and if I have any chance at all getting a research position somewhere like that.
  5. Jul 26, 2005 #4
    I am doing an Undergraduate summer research program right now, I think the main thing they look for is good upper divsion grades in the subject you wish to do research in and also good letter of recommendations.
  6. Jul 27, 2005 #5


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    I have mentioned this several times before (and in my So You Want To Be A Physicist series), but I'll say it again.

    Go look at the Dept. of Energy website and look for Summer Internships program. This program gives research experience to science/math/engineering/comp sci/etc to undergraduate students at various DOE National Laboratories.


    This is a HIGHLY competitive and sought-after opportunity because you not only get to work with renowned scientists and engineers, but also you get to pad your resume with it after you graduate. Especially if your school does not have the facility to do a lot of research work, this could be to your advantage to apply and point this out since it is the mission of this program to give students lacking the opportunity to do reserch work the chance to do so.

    You should also go to the various US Nat'l Labs website and look at their Educational programs. Each of them has their own openings and programs for undergraduate research involvement independent of the DOE programs. Example:

    http://www.anl.gov/Careers/Education/index.html [Broken]

    "Big time universities" have NOTHING on these labs in terms of opening their research facilities for undergraduate involvement from other institutions.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Jul 27, 2005 #6
    Interesting thread of you Zz. Ps, i really like how you learn new people to look at the socalled US top universities with critical eyes in order to avoid geting blinded by posh sounding names that do not tell anything about a new student's personal research abilities. This is a point you make, that i totally agree with

    just my opinion

  8. Jul 27, 2005 #7
    Wow,this intership program of the DOE sounds really good,but unfortunately I'm not a US citizen, do you know any programs like this for non-US-citizen or any european programs?
    i know that CERN has a summer student program,but it's not for undergrads.
    for this summer i applied at the Max-planck-institute(i'm from germany,the MPIs are very popular here)for a intership,but i'm not sure if they'll take me,since i have the same problem as leright:no research experience...
  9. Jul 27, 2005 #8


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    I'm not sure if I can help you with that since my knowledge of other programs in other countries is severely limited. I think not having any research experience should not stop you from applying to the various Max Planck institute. After all, if they are doing an educational program, that is the whole point of giving research opportunity, which is to people who do NOT have research backgrounds.

    Hopefully, someone more familiar with these things can post something here.

  10. Jul 27, 2005 #9
    These are some of the summer internships offered by my university UGent. We alsohave possibilities for CERN, but indeed like you said those are not for undergraduates.

    http://www.helmholtz.de/ [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  11. Jul 27, 2005 #10
    Hhave you asked at your own university daba? That's how I got my own summerjob, by simply going to a prof at the department I wanted to work in and asking. And I even got asked to continue part time after the summer too.
  12. Jul 27, 2005 #11
    hey if i am a US student, is it possible for me to research in Europe? would room and board be free?
  13. Jul 28, 2005 #12
    thx a lot for your answers!!
    i know that its pretty easy to get a summer position at my own university,that's why i applied at the MPIs first,and if they don't take me I can still go to the reserch groups at the university. because I've talked to others who told me that having spent time at an non-university-instititution is more preferred by some future employers,i don't know if it's true...
    @JasonJo take a look at CERN:
    http://humanresources.web.cern.ch/HumanResources/external/recruitment/students/summ/summ.asp [Broken]
    US student can apply for the summer students prog and there is also a special prog just for the US.
    the selection is pretty tough,but once selected,you don't have to pay anything
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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