Students from all over the country have come to The University of New Mexico as part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in the Physics and Astronomy Department.
The Physics and Astronomy Research Experiences for Undergraduates is a 10-week summer research internship program for undergraduate students studying physics and astronomy. Eight students out of 141 applicants are currently participating in the first-year program that’s funded through a three-year, $284,687 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.
"The UNM Department of Physics and Astronomy has a strong record of overall research funding and makes undergraduate education a top priority, including research," said Principal Investigator and Professor Richard Rand. "The intellectual activities of the REU will reflect the diverse research areas in the department, including quantum information, optical sciences, particle physics, astrophysics, biophysics and geophysics."
"I'm honored to be able to learn alongside so many brilliant students and to be taught by some of the brightest minds in physics, and each of the students involved will be much more prepared for whichever life path they decide to go down."
– Nathan Arnold, Texas A&M
As part of the program, students will be provided with valuable experience including the opportunity to work and conduct research alongside a faculty member in the department on a range of subjects from biophysics to optical sciences to radio astronomy. Students will also hear about different career paths in physics and astronomy, give presentations on their research, go on educational and social outings, and partake in a range of recreational activities and opportunities to experience New Mexico.
"The UNM Physics REU has been the best experience of my undergrad thus far. It is not easy to find a group of like-minded people that can create a support system like the one that has been made with this program, so this is truly a rare and valuable experience," said Nathan Arnold, a participant from Texas A&M. "I'm honored to be able to learn alongside so many brilliant students and to be taught by some of the brightest minds in physics, and each of the students involved will be much more prepared for whichever life path they decide to go down. For me personally, I have learned many things about performing experimental research and hope to be able to continue researching as I pursue my Ph.D. after I graduate."
The cohort, that started in late-May and continues through July, has several educational outings planned including trips to the Los Alamos Nuclear Science Center, the Very Large Array, the UNM-led Long Wavelength Array and Magdalena Ridge Observatory. Optional social outings have included a trip to visit National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, the Rio Grande Nature Center and Sandia Crest. Upcoming social outings include a hike at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and a trip to the ballpark to watch Albuquerque Isotopes baseball.
"Along with cutting-edge research opportunities, there will be a professional development program designed to educate the students in research conduct and expose them to the wide variety of STEM career paths their degree makes possible," said Rand. "We’re hoping to create motivation and excitement about STEM research, and to provide skills and experiences which will increase the likelihood that participating students will pursue a career in a STEM field."
In addition, the program addresses a regional deficiency since an REU program with a primary focus on physics doesn’t exist in New Mexico, a state with a large proportion of underserved minorities. Part of the program’s focus is on creating opportunities for underserved populations. Six of this year’s eight participants are women and three of the eight are minorities.
Program benefits include travel, on-campus housing, a $5,000 stipend and coverage of the cost of educational activities. The cohort started in late-May. Additional cohorts in the UNM Physics and Astronomy Department will follow in the summers of 2019 and 2020.
For more information, visit UNM Physics and Astronomy REU.