Multiple Undergraduate Research Projects

Project: Research project

Project Details


The stipend amount will be $5,000 for 7 full-time (10 weeks) selected astrophysics students. The exact period the students must be available to work is flexible, but the period should be between approximately June 15 and September 25. All of our projects at Northwestern can provide tasks that will give the student extensive computer experience with a wide selection of mini-computers on campus or via electronic access to several of- campus super-computers. Some of the areas of current research are: (1) Theoretical work on the physics of pulsars and black holes in the centers of galaxies (2) Radio maps of the Galactic Center and star formation regions; (3) Optical observations related to the study of the cosmic micro-wave background and the intergalactic gas; (4) Analysis of X-ray satellite data (5) Laboratory work to develop techniques for making mirrors which reflect X-rays or are light weight optical mirrors (6) Planetary system Formation and Evolution. The roles and responsibilities vary but typically require computer programming, running computer programs, downloading and analyzing satellite data sets, designing and machining pieces for the laboratory, running equipment such as vacuum systems and electroforming baths, and attending research team meetings and seminars.

In the summer of 2019, we had 9 participants (4 full 10-week fellowships and 5 part-time positions). In terms of funding the summer of 2019, we were below our target for female and underrepresented minority participants, but we anticipate a better representation in the summer of 2020 The summer of 2019 we had 2 students from outside NU, one from Univ. of California Berkeley and the other from Ohio Wesleyan.

Furthermore, last summer, we provided funds to the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and had a very impressive list of 7 female and/or underrepresented minority participants: Gabriela Diaz (Texas A&M University, Kingsville, TX), Monica Inouye (California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA), Manuel Osorio (DePaul University, Chicago, IL), Cynthia Perez (University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX), Awa Porgo (Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ), Adriane Roberson (Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA), and Taija Stoner-Harris (Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA). This brought us to above target for females and on target for underrepresented minorities. On average, we have taken 6 minority students from the MRSEC in the past and anticipate taking on at least 5 in the summer of 2020.

All the Astrophysics students will meet weekly for seminars, which will be given by faculty and staff until the end of the summer when the students will give their own presentations. We estimate the total cost of the equipment that the students will have access to is over $1M.

Relevance to NASA Mission Directorates: The research carried out by the astrophysics students as detailed above is of clear interrst to NASA SMD, e.g., analyzing data from the HST and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The SMD is also interested in the development of new technologies that can be used for the next genrations’s space observations. Materials Science carried research is, as with instrumentation, of interest to the SMD, as well as the ARMD and the STMD.

The selection criteria are for the students to be very interested in astrophysics (they submit an essay on why they are interested in astrophysics and describe any previous experience), be in good academic standing, have strong letters of recommendation and
Effective start/end date4/10/20 → 4/9/21


  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (099286-17921//80NSSC20M0046)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (099286-17921//80NSSC20M0046)


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