Notre Dame gearing up for 35th year of physics summer research program

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

The University of Notre Dame will be hosting students this summer for the 35th year of the Physics Research Experience for Undergraduates.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded the program since its inception, making it the longest-running program of its kind that the agency has supported. In addition to the REU, Notre Dame will host from 12-15 teachers in a Research Experience for Teachers program (RET), and 24 high school students will be participating in a high school experience. Because of COVID precautions, the high school students will be participating remotely.

Physics Olympics 2019 1
Physics REU activity during summer of 2019; photo taken pre-Covid

Twenty-five to 30 undergraduates, from several universities, will be arriving on campus May 24 for the REU, with the program ending in a symposium July 24. The students gain research experience, learn about professional development for graduate school (including a GRE preparation course) and receive ethics training.

“It is above and beyond just a normal research experience,” said Mitchell Wayne, professor of physics and in charge of the RET program.

A positive aspect of the program is that the REU and RET are combined with the cohort from the high school, so every participant can learn and grow from the experience, said Umesh Garg, professor of physics who runs the program with many other professors serving as faculty mentors for the students. 

All REU students will stay on campus this summer. The program was offered last summer as a remote learning experience, but only 14 students participated because there were not enough research projects amenable to remote work to support a larger cohort, Garg said.

Fifteen of the REU students are funded by the NSF with the others funded through a variety of internal grants, Garg said.

The program has proven transformative for those who participate, he noted.

“I have had several ‘grandstudents,’ as I call them, come through the program,” said Garg. “Several of our former REUs are now professors, sending their own students to take part in the program.”

Originally published by Deanna Csomo McCool at science.nd.edu on May 06, 2021.