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Student Research

Undergraduate Research at University of Florida

Undergraduate research is an important part of the educational experience within the UF Astronomy Department.   UF students carry out research in a wide range of fields under the supervision of UF faculty members.  In recent years, students have analyzed data from the Hubble Space Telescope, discovered exoplanets using ground based surveys, performed theoretical calculations with world-leading supercomputers, and much more.  Participating in research is an important opportunity offered to UF students that enriches their education beyond the classroom and generates skillsets that aid students in finding successful careers beyond UF.

Summer Research Opportunities at University of Florida

The University of Florida Astronomy Department is host to an NSF funded REU program focused in Computational Astrophysics.  REU students are fully immersed in our department’s research environment by carrying out a research project with a supervising faculty member, attending weekly talks and seminars, and by presenting their own results.  For more information, including information about how to apply, please email reu@astro.ufl.edu.

Additionally, UF students are eligible and encouraged to apply for the CLAS Scholars program.

Summer Research Opportunities beyond the University of Florida

The Astronomy Department strongly encourages our undergraduate majors to engage in research outside of the University.  Below is a list of opportunities that students may choose to consider.  Note, these opportunities are highly competitive, and we encourage students to apply broadly, and to request recommendation letters from faculty/staff with sufficient advance notice.

Curated lists:

Other opportunities:

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do I become involved in research?
    In short: ask.  We suggest students read through the research page to identify areas of interest, and then contact the relevant faculty/staff via email to chat about whether they may have possible openings for undergraduates.  Research may be taken for credit, or in some individual cases, for pay.
  • But wait…how do I know what topics I’m interested in?
    The best thing you can do is expose yourself to as much cutting edge research as possible!  The Astronomy Dept. has a vigorous colloquium series on Thursdays at 12:45pm in BRT 217 during the academic year, as well as an arXiv coffee where we discuss recent papers on MWF 10:30am in the 3d floor lounge (BRT).   Undergraduates are encouraged to attend, listen, and ask questions!  Another great resource is astrobites, a regularly updated summary of recent papers written by graduate students around the world, at the undergraduate level.
  • What do I need to do to prepare for undergraduate research?
    The most important thing you can do from a technical standpoint is to have some familiarity with coding.   The most commonly used language (if you had to pick one) is python3, for which there are numerous free online tutorials.  You don’t need to be a code ninja!  But a very basic familiarity with if statements, for and while loops, and some basic code structure will help you to hit the ground running.
  • How many times may I take research for credit?
    The Astronomy Dept. allows research to count as a 4000 level upper division elective for the major once (i.e. for 3 credits).  You may take research for credit up to 3 times total (9 credits) though only 3 will count as a 4000 level upper division elective.

To do this, they can take three (up to nine) credits of AST 4911, Individual Work, with one of the faculty. The course involves working on a one-on-one basis with the faculty member, and/or a graduate student supervised by the faculty member. Another way of gaining research experience is participating in one of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs around the US. The following have comprehensive lists for programs in the astronomy and astrophysics field as well as other science related fields.

  • What classes should I have taken before embarking on research?

Ideally, you will have taken 3018 and 3019.  This said, individual needs certainly may vary, and it’s always worth enquiring even if you haven’t yet completed these courses.