April 10, 2009:
Rochester Research Experience for Undergraduate in Physics and Astrophysics Grant Renewed for Three Years.
The department of Physics and Astronomy has been awarded a three year grant to renew its successful Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program for another three years (2009-2012). The grant which totals $434,468 is the sixth award since the program was initiated in 1994. It is co-funded by the Physics and Astronomy Divisions of the National Science Foundation and the ASSURE program of the Department of Defense.
REU students have garnered a variety of prizes and awards including the 1999 American Physical Society’s Apker Award for best undergraduate research. Two REU students were selected as APS Apker Award Finalists in 1999 and 2000, and a third won second place in the APS conference poster competition in 2001. Three REU students won APS NY section Physics Outreach awards for their outreach activities and four REU students won the Astronomical Society of New York Undergraduate Student Prize for best research publication. Since 1994, eight women REU participants have been nominated for and won University of Rochester awards recognizing outstanding research by women students, including the Susan B. Anthony Prize, Catherine Block Memorial Fund Prize, and Janet Howell Clark Prize. At least twelve National Goldwater Fellowships, and at least six National NSF scholarships that have been awarded to REU students. In 2002, REU student Stephen Thorndike and Prof. Alice Quillen discovered an extra-solar planet.
The University of Rochester's REU program in Physics and Astronomy enables sophomores and juniors nationwide to undertake summer research projects with members of the Department, and aims at 50% participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Since 1994, the fraction of women funded or partially funded by REU funds is about 50%, and the fraction of under-represented minorities is 13%. The number of applicants to the program is about 200 per year. A total of 12 undergraduates per year are funded by the NSF site REU grant and an additional 25 are funded by other department grants.
From 1994-2008, a total of 536 undergraduates funded by REU and all other funding sources performed research in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rochester. During that period, REU participants have given over 330 presentations at professional and student research conferences, and co-authored roughly 286 journal publications and conference proceedings and equal number of abstracts. In addition, during this period University of Rochester participant have written 76 theses in support of their bachelor of science degree. The program also incorporates a research experience program for high school teachers (RET). Since 2003, 22 high school teachers participated in the REU/RET Site activities
Students choose from the following experimental and theoretical research areas: particle and nuclear physics; quantum optics and lasers; astrophysics and infrared astronomy; condensed matter physics; biological and medical physics; plasma physics; and physics education. Students' research work is augmented by mini-courses in electronics and machining, weekly lunchtime discussions, excursions in the Rochester area, and opportunities to engage in the Department's community outreach activities. Students prepare abstracts and presentations of their results, and are encouraged (and provided with financial support) to present their work at national conferences, such as NCUR, meetings of the American Physical Society, and the Rochester Symposium for Physics Students . Most REU students continue on to graduate school (83%), some go to industry (13%). A few students (4%) chose to delay graduate study to teach science (e.g., through Teach for America) for 1-2 years (and/or longer).
Other REU programs at Rochester include the REU/RET program in Chemistry, and the REU program in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Additional information on undergraduate research programs at the University of Rochester can be found at the Web site of the Office of Undergraduate Research And Mentoring, directed by Steve Manly, Professor of Physics and recipient of the NY Professor of the year award.