NSF-REU Internships in Astronomy

Application deadline is February 1st, 2015

2014 REU students at the Maria Mitchell Observatory

2015 Application (PDF)

The spiral galaxy NGC 4911 as seen by Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

The spiral galaxy NGC 4911 as seen by Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

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 2015 for qualified undergraduate astronomy and physics students through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, which is supported by a generous grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

REU students at the MMO work on individualized research projects under the guidance of experienced astronomers.

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

Research at MMO emphasizes state-of-the-art data reduction techniques and thoughtful physical interpretation. 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.

2013 REU students outside the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Vestal Street.

2013 REU students outside the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Vestal Street

the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring was conferred upon 23 individuals and organizations. Among the awardees was the Nantucket Maria Mitchell AssociationThe 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 2009, the Maria Mitchell Association received the 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.

Eligibility

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 with a planned graduation date after September 2015. U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is required.

Compensation

Positions will be available starting June 1st and continuing until late August. Stipends are $1,800 monthly, and free furnished housing is also provided. Up to $500 for roundtrip travel between the student’s home and Nantucket is available, as are funds for to present research results 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.

Application Process

2015 Application (PDF)

Internship applications are due February 1st. In addition to the completed application form, applicants must arrange for copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (unofficial transcripts are acceptable) and at least two letters of recommendation to be sent before the deadline. All application materials, letters and transcripts must be e-mailed to reu@mariamitchell.org. Questions about the MMO’s REU program can also be sent to the same address or to Dr. Michael West, Director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory.

We hope to welcome you to the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Observatory!

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