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Undergraduate Research

  1. Aug 8, 2008 #1
    I am an uprising junior at a small liberal arts and sciences college. I spent this past summer doing research in computational astrophysics with a professor at my university. I would like to do another computation astrophysics research project (an REU or program away from my own university) next summer. How do I avoid "cookie cutter" research projects? For example, I had a classmate who went to a prestigious REU and ended up doing a glorified version of calorimetry all summer.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2008 #2
    Talk to the professor before-hand and communicate with him that one of your primary goals is acquiring new skills you will be able to apply to future research.

    Ideally, /problem.
  4. Aug 9, 2008 #3
    I am just finishing a summer internship you may be interested in for next year.

    This summer I worked with Adler Planetarium in Chicago on their Far horizons program. They launch balloons 100,000 ft up to take data on all sorts of things from light intensities, temperature, air density, cosmic rays, etc..

    It is sort of a stepping stone project to working their way up to launching their own satellites.

    Its a paid internship, which is a huge plus, its in Chicago which is another plus.

    I had a wonderful time, this is my last week coming up. I learned a very large amount over the summer and have acquired/developed a lot of great skills from teaching to programing to lab skills.
  5. Aug 9, 2008 #4


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    Find out what the project would entail before committing to it. In your application essay, make it clear that you're looking for a self-contained project - most REU programs offer this anyway. They want to see you go on and present it at a conference, or even help write a paper. To have the best shot at finding the type of project you're looking for, apply to a lot of programs. I think I applied to 10 my sophomore year, after working at a local university the year before, and I got at least 4 offers. Some of the top programs are listed on the AAS website http://www.aas.org .
  6. Aug 10, 2008 #5
    I'm gonna advertise my REU that I'm finishing in 2 weeks.

    Its Coding and communications theory at Utah State University. We had a 2 week crash course on everything from information theory to probability. Then we were presented about 15 problems and either in pairs or individually we all picked our own projects and worked on them M-F afterwards. It was completly independent, but the professors were available at almost all times.
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