For more than 50 years, the Maria Mitchell Observatory (MMO) has offered summer research opportunities in astronomy and astrophysics for students on the picturesque island of Nantucket. Six summer internship positions will be available in 2013 for qualified undergraduate astronomy and physics students through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, which is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
In addition to MMO Director Dr. Michael West, we are pleased to announce the following Affiliated Faculty Astronomers for the summer 2013 REU program:
- Dr. Marla Geha (Yale University)
- Dr. Margaret Geller (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)
- Dr. Michael Gregg (University of California, Davis)
- Dr. Peter Stetson (Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics)
- Dr. Marianne Takamiya (University of Hawaii, Hilo)
REU students at the MMO work on individualized research projects under the guidance of an experienced astronomer. Current areas of research include:
- Formation and evolution of stars and galaxies
- Groups and clusters of galaxies
- Stellar populations
- Stars clusters
- Astrophysical masers and lasers
- Cosmology and the early universe
- History and culture of astronomy
Data for projects are obtained from Hubble Space Telescope, leading ground-based optical, infrared and radio telescopes, and next generation surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey (UKIDSS). Students also obtain data and develop their hands-on observational skills with the MMO’s 24″ and 17″ research telescopes equipped with modern CCD cameras. In addition, students have access to the digitized photographic plate collections of the MMO and the Harvard College Observatory, a unique historical resource for studies of variable objects over long time periods. The Observatory computing facilities include LINUX, Windows and Mac workstations and PCs.
Research at MMO emphasizes state-of-the-art data reduction techniques and thoughtful physical interpretation. Most MMO REU students become authors or co-authors of papers published in scientific journals based on their research, and 60% go on to graduate school to obtain a PhD.
And it’s more than just research. The MMO’s REU program also helps students develop their public speaking and presentation skills through weekly scientific seminars, outreach events such as stargazing nights at the Loines Observatory, and other activities aimed at developing their abilities as science communicators. For the past 15 years, virtually all MMO REU students have presented the results of their research at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Two MMO students were awarded the prestigious AAS Chambliss Medal for their posters (Lauren Weiss in 2009 and Alexa Villaume in 2010) and three others received Honorable Mention. Special workshops led by MMO staff and visiting astronomers also provide REU students with valuable information and advice on career development, all in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.
The Maria Mitchell Observatory is a recognized leader in training the next generation of astronomers. Since its inception in 1957, hundreds of undergraduate students have discovered the joy of doing astronomical research surrounded by the natural beauty of Nantucket island. Many have gone on to successful careers as astronomers at leading universities, observatories and other organizations around the world. In fact, an estimated 5% of all American women PhDs in astronomy today acquired their first research experience at the MMO.
In 2009, the Maria Mitchell Association received the highly prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President Obama for its half-century long program of mentoring undergraduate student research in astronomy.
Responsibilities and Tasks
MMO offers six REU internships in astronomy each summer. These positions provide an opportunity for students to conduct independent research supervised by a senior staff of the MMO and visiting scientists. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in an undergraduate institution and have not graduated before September 2013. U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is required.
Positions will be available starting in late May and continuing until late August (dates are flexible). Stipends are $1,700 monthly. Furnished housing is provided as part of each student’s compensation. Up to $500 for roundtrip travel between the student’s home and Nantucket is also available, as are funds for field trips and attendance at the January AAS meeting. The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association is an affirmative action and Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages all interested individuals to apply.
Internship applications are due February 15th of the year of the internship. In addition to the application form, applicants must arrange for copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended and at least two letters of recommendation to be sent before the deadline. All application materials and letters should be e-mailed to email@example.com. Questions about the MMO’s REU program can also be sent to the same address.
We hope to welcome you to the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Observatory!