SETI Summer Students Seek Science

For 10 weeks in the summer of 2007, 16 students came to the SETI Institute as part of our Research Experience for Undergraduates program. In an excellent example of cooperation between two government agencies, 11 of the students were funded by the National Science Foundation, and 4 were funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). We also had an international student from England who was funded by a series of British grants to participate in our program. The other students came from all over the country, from New York to Hawaii, and from big schools like Cornell and MIT and small schools like King College (in Tennessee). The NSF-funded students were each paired with a researcher from the SETI Institute's Carl Sagan Center or Center for SETI Research. The NAI-funded students were paired with either a member of the SETI Institute's NAI Team, or the NASA Ames NAI Team.

The students lived in housing at NASA Ames, where they met hundreds of other summer students from other programs at Ames. They participated in field trips to places like Lick Observatory and the California Academy of Sciences. A highlight of the summer was the week-long field trip that included a visit to Hat Creek Radio Observatory to do a project using the Allen Telescope Array, led by Jill Tarter, and a visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park to study hot springs and extremophiles, led by Rocco Mancinelli.

The students also participated in research projects that ranged from mapping features on the surface of Mars, to designing an instrument to use to observe meteor showers from a private Gulfstream Jet (and then using the instrument in two separate observing campaigns). Students presented their work in a series of talks at the end of the summer, and some will (or have already) present their work at professional meetings throughout the year.

The REU program will return again in 2008 — applications are now open on our website at:

http://www.seti.org/reu

There you will find a full list of the 16 research projects being offered for 2008, as well as more information about the program and the online application. Applications for the 2008 program are due on February 1st.