The National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program was established in 1987 to support the participation of undergraduate students in science, engineering, and education research. To be eligible, students must be US citizens or permanent residents of the US or its territories. Programs typically focus on a discipline, such as chemistry or astrophysics, providing an immersive 10-week research experience during which students work with a faculty mentor on a research topic of mutual interest.
The Berkeley Physics Department is widely considered to be one of the world’s finest: recent Nobel Prizes awarded to its faculty recognized work on the cosmic microwave background blackbody spectrum (2006, George Smoot), the accelerating universe (2011, Saul Perlmutter), the Milky Way’s massive central black hole (2020, Reinhard Genzel). A great deal of the research it does is located “on site”, in facilities housed within the Physics Department or at Berkeley National Lab, which is immediately adjacent to campus.
As a public research university, Berkeley is committed to undergraduate education: currently the Physics Department includes approximately 300 majors and a similar number of first- and second-year students who are intended majors. This year (2020) the Department decided to establish a REU program in order widen the community of undergraduates it can serve. All of its research programs – Astrophysics, Atomic/Molecular/Optical, Biophysics, Condensed Matter, Nuclear Physics, Particle Physics, and Plasma and Nonlinear Physics – are participating, as are most of its faculty. The progam’s co-directors are Ori Ganor (particle theory) and Gabriel Orebi Gann (neutrino experiment), and they are supported by senior personnel Wick Haxton (nuclear theory), Matt Pyle (dark matter experiment), Haichen Wang (experimental high energy physics), and Michael Zaletel (condensed matter theory). The program is administered by the staff of the Network for Neutrinos, Nuclear Astrophysics, and Symmetries (N3AS), an NSF Physics Frontier Center focused on multi-messenger astrophysics.
Our program is appropriate for students who have completed at least two years of undergraduate physics training, and we especially encourage applications from students who have transferred or are about to transfer from two-year institutions into four-year colleges and universities, to complete their BAs. Our program has established a partnership with the CAMPARE program, which helps students from California state universities and community colleges locate suitable summer research experiences. We recruit nationally, and admission is done competitively, based on a holistic evaluation of applications.
Berkeley is located across the Bay from San Francisco, the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California, and one of most vibrant and ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the US. The area is convenient to remarkable diverse outdoor opportunities, including the Marin Headlands, Point Reyes National Seashore, Big Sur, and somewhat more distant, national parks including Yosemite, Lassen Volcanic, Redwood, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon.
The Department is a diverse and welcoming one, with a wide variety of supporting student organizations that encourage community, collaboration, and camaraderie.