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CUR Physics and Astronomy REU program

CUR Physics and Astronomy Division

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) 

In Physics and Astronomy

Funded by the National Science Foundation

(Award Number: 1358879 for the 2013-2015 program)


Welcome to the CUR REU Page!


Why should you want to participate in research?

Student looking at the tip of a far-infrared detector.Students working in the biophysics laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

To start (or advance) your career as a researcher. 

Direct faculty mentorship by seasoned researchers in the areas of physics and astronomy.
Student working on a telescope for their summer REU research project. Clarissa measuing a far-infrared laser frequency.
Jose locking the carbon dioxide laser to its center frequency.
Working with high quality research instrumentation.
Students working in the far-infrared laser laboratory at Central Washington University.Student presenting his research at the College of Charleston.
Participation on projects in a small group student-mentor environment.Opportunity to present your research at the 2015 National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

ERAU trip in the Everglades.

A quick afternoon hike in central Washington.
Enjoyable recreational activities.


Tentative Program dates (pending program renewal)

June 1 - August 5, 2016

This program is managed by councilors and members of the Physics and Astronomy division at the Council on Undergraduate Research.  For more information about this program, please contact Dr. Bruce Palmquist ( 



This REU program focuses on providing students with their first formal faculty mentored research experience.  We are interested in applications submitted by undergraduates from any university, with a goal of serving students enrolled at institutions where research opportunities for undergraduates are minimal or non-existent.  Experimental and computational projects in diverse areas of physics and astronomy are available.  Additionally, multiple institutions across the US host the cohort of participating undergraduate students.  During this 10-week program, students live on a respective host campus while working alongside faculty mentors and undergraduates from the host institution.  Interactions among the students in multi-institution REU cohort take place on-line with an end-of-summer face-to-face meeting.  For August 2016, this meeting is tentatively scheduled at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.


Research Projects

The list of available research projects for the Summer 2016 REU program are listed below.  Select the appropriate link to learn more about each respective project, including where they are performed.

Research projects for the Summer 2016 REU program
Astronomy and Astrophysics

Exploring the limits of planetary habitability using orbital dynamics with Dr. John Armstrong, Weber State University 

Gyrochronology of Main Sequence Stars in the Kepler Field with Dr. Terry Oswalt, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

A uniform survey of bright open clusters with Dr. J. A. Smith, Austin Peay State University 

Biophysics of Synchronization and Chaos with Dr. Sorinel A. Oprisan, College of Charleston 
The Persistence Length of Microtubules with Multi-rigidity Segments with Dr. Tav Hawkins and Dr. G. R. Sudhakaran, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Optics, Materials Science, and Nuclear Physics
 Developing Oxide Materials for Optoelectronic Applications with Dr. Seth King and Dr. G. R. Sudhakaran, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Exploring glass strength: Structural origin of fracturing in low melting fluorophosphates glasses for solar energy applications with Dr. A. Kovalskiy and Dr. J. A. Smith, Austin Peay State UniversityTime Resolved Tandem Faraday Cup for High Energy Target Normal Sheath Particles with Dr. Stephen Padalino, SUNY Geneseo


Program Summary

  • Housing: REU students typically live in housing provided by the program on the respective host campus.  Students staying on campus housing will receive an additional allowance for food (approximately $115 per week).
  • Stipend: REU students receive a $500/week stipend and support towards travel to and from the program.
  • Student/Faculty Interaction: Throughout the summer program, weekly on-line gatherings will be held among the REU cohort, with the faculty mentors present, in which students will discuss their work.  Additional webinars, such as information on Careers in Physics, will be available to REU students.  REU participants will also be able to regularly interact with students performing summer research on the host campus.
  • Social Programs: The program will include activities with students at the host institution and virtual activities with other REU students.  Additionally, all REU students are tentatively scheduled to meet at Millersville University during the week of August 1st through 5th to participate in end of summer activities that will include several field trips and shared meals.
  • Deliverables: Students will be responsible for aspects of the project including its dissemination.  Each student will create a brief video detailing their progress near the middle of the program.  Projects will conclude with a 12-minute presentation to the rest of the REU group.  Contingent on funding, participants will also have the opportunity to present their research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), in April 2017 or at a professional conference within the discipline.


  • Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • We are interested in applications submitted by undergraduates from any university, with a focus on those students who have not yet had their first formal faculty mentored research experience.  As such, we strongly encourage students enrolled at institutions where research opportunities for undergraduates are minimal or non-existent to apply.  This includes, but is not limited to, community colleges and four-year colleges/universities. All participants must be continuing their undergraduate college education in Fall 2015.
  • Students must have finished at least one year of college by summer 2015 but may not have completed a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, or equivalent degree.
  • Preference is given to students who have completed an introductory physics and/or astronomy sequence.
  • Women and students from traditionally underrepresented groups and institutions are encouraged to apply.
  • Although there is some flexibility in dates, we require students be able to participate during the end-of-summer event tentatively scheduled at Millersville University during the week of August 1st - 5th. 


  • All applications completed on or before February 20 will be reviewed before any offers are made.  Initial offers for most projects will be made by mid-March. We continue to review applications as they arrive and until all positions are filled. However, we strongly advise students to submit all materials by February 20, when positions are still open.
  • Once the program is full, we will send rejection letters via e-mail to students with complete applications. If you need to know the status of your application before then, feel free to ask us about it at any time.
  • Most offers are made in mid-March. Each offer is for a specific project, and the faculty mentor will discuss the details with the applicant. Usually we give students a one-week deadline to accept or decline our offers, but no student will be asked to make a decision before March 5.


Questions? Start with our FAQ.


For more information about this program, please contact:

Contact: Dr. Bruce Palmquist

This website was developed using information from other NSF-REU and summer research programs including those at the University of California at Davis, Purdue University, Hope College, and Lehigh University.