REU Site Renewal: No
Title: REU Site: Preparing a Diverse Workforce through Interdisciplinary Astrophysics Research
Principal Investigator: Dr. Vassiliki Kalogera
Submitting Organization: Northwestern University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration
and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA)
Other Organizations Involved: None
Location: Northwestern University, Evanston campus
Main field and subfields: Astrophysics projects with interdisciplinary elements with CIERA faculty in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy, Applied Math, Earth and Planetary Science, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Number of Participants per Year: Eight
Summer or Academic Year REU Site: Summer
Number of weeks per year that students will participate: Ten
Does the project include an international or RET component: No
Contact: Dr. Laura Trouille,, 847-404-6408
Intellectual Merit:
Northwestern University (NU)’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) proposes a new astronomy REU site. Our REU site takes advantage of CIERA’s interdisciplinary nature, providing students access to mentors, experience, and insight into the cross-departmental connections between astrophysics and other STEM disciplines. Our Faculty Mentors (all of whom are members of CIERA) come from four departments: the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Applied Math, Earth and Planetary Science, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Available research projects cover a wide range of astronomy topics and research methods (from theory to computation and from instrumentation to experimentation). Furthermore, the projects will use a diverse set of facilities, including instrument labs and the Quest high performance computing facility at NU, instruments at Fermi Lab and Argonne National Laboratory, and the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory. Through this exposure, our REU students will have the opportunity to see how astrophysical studies provides them with a wide range of skills and can lead them to diverse professional paths. We aim to give students the experience of doing interdisciplinary astrophysical research in a supportive university environment, to expose them to a wide array of exciting research areas in astrophysics, and to build community among the students themselves and with NU researchers.
Broader Impacts: We aim for at least half of our REU students each year to be members of underrepresented groups in STEM, recruited from Chicago area minority serving institutions. Our program will provide a second summer of research for students involved in the Chicago Initiative for Research and Recruitment in Undergraduate Science (CIRRUS) program. We will encourage our students to continue their projects throughout the academic year. Several participants will be given the opportunity to present the results of their research at the subsequent January American Astronomical Society Meeting and we expect a number of our REU projects will result in peer-reviewed publications. Special effort will be made to provide our students with research skills and the level of preparation needed to get into and thrive in graduate programs in Astrophysics and related fields. In addition to a directed research project with a supportive mentor, our REU students will attend weekly lectures by faculty describing their research and career paths, technical skills workshops, science communication workshops, career panel discussions, organized field trips, directed graduate school preparation, and cohort build
Effective start/end date9/1/145/31/18


  • National Science Foundation (AST-1359462-003)


interdisciplinary research
engineering science
electrical engineering
computer science
research project
communication sciences
school graduate
research method