REU/Internships Info

(Page created and maintained by Dr. Romulo Ochoa - please send updated info and corrections to

1. Introduction
2. REUs Sites
3. Internship Sites
4. Summer Research and Internship Experiences

In the summer of 2006 nine (9) of our majors participated in Research Experiences for Undergraduates or Internships. This was a fantastic number of participants considering the size of our department. A few others conducted summer research before and after that. Their experiences are described below.

I have compiled a list of sites that can help you get started on your search for possible summer research or internship sites. This web page will be updated on a regular basis. Any information from you is welcome. Examples of places attended in the past include Princeton Plasma Labs, Duke University, Arecibo Observatory, Rice University, RPI, Stanford University, SUNY Stony Brook, Lehigh U., Los Alamos National Lab., University of Delaware, UCLA, Picatinny Arsenal, and The College of New Jersey.

Some practical points related to REU/Internships are:

Deadlines: Most deadlines start on December 31st and continue until the middle of March. On occasions students are put on waiting lists and get accepted relatively late. Also, if many accepted students decide not to attend a certain REU some late applicants are accepted.

Qualifications: Mostly rising seniors and juniors are accepted for REUs but sometimes rising sophomores are too. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for most REUs and internships. Having taken several physics courses is a plus.

Miscellaneous Info: Most REU sites will not accept two students from the same institution. They are looking to diversify the pool of accepted students. We do have some alumni working at Lockheed and Merck. They might be able to help you obtain an internship. Programming experience is very useful. Internships usually pay better than REUs.

REUs sites:

For General Searches:

American Institute of Physics:

SULI site:

National Science Foundation:


Princeton Plasma Lab:

U. of Central Florida:

U. of Washington:

CERN (Switzerland):

Internship sites:

Delaware River Basin Commission:



Summer research and internships experiences

A link to REU - Graduate school advice by our faculty member Dr. Nathan Magee:

Frank Jones (PHYC) (2008) (rising senior)

I spent my summer at Ithaca College doing research on "Smart" wheelchairs for disabled children. The research focused on design a wheel chair for toddlers that would keep them safe by making decisions based on computer vision and obstacle avoidance. In addition to this I also built my own 3D robotics simulator and worked with other robotics software including the iRobot iCreate, Aria programming library, Mobile Sim robot simulator, and Player/Stage library and simulator.  

The experience was great. I learned a lot, some programming, some robotics, and some math. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys programming and robotics. There was also some virtual reality and fractals projects that I got to look at, if someone is interested in those fields. I was paid $3800 for 9 weeks. Food, housing, and travel were also all paid for.

Justin Nieusma (PHYA) (2008) (rising senior)

This past summer (2008) I took part in an REU with the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University.  I spent 10 weeks living in Ithaca, NY, and warking as part of the SIRTF (Space Infrared Telescope Facility) team working on data from the Spitzer space telescope. I worked directly with a full time researcher in the department on a project concerning the Dust Emission of Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars in Globular Clusters.  This was a great opportunity, as it was a very important project (this dust emission counts for the majority of heavy element population in the universe),  a very unknown area of research (aka - new stuff to learn), and a project that my advisor was interested in, so he was continuously working with me, even to current as he finalizes the publication of our results.

I found this summer to be far superior to my previous REU.  I learned many useful skills on the computer (IDL) and about doing research and analyzing data.  I was given a lot of freedom to work and was making decisions and contributions, not just following orders.  The program itself was also great, with a large number of unique activities (from touring a particle accelerator to taking swing dancing lessons) but also with a lot of freedom and time to explore the area around Ithaca.  The others in the program were from schools all over the US (Cornell, Harvard, University of Kansas, Notre Dame, etc.), though we all got along well and had a lot of fun together.  It is also one of the highest paying REUs ($6,600), though you have to find your own housing and food.  )Hint: use Craig's list and barter with people: I got a very nice place right off campus for only $1200 for the summer, and probably could have paid less.)  Definitely check this REU out and take advantage of it.  Amazing summer and opportunity.

Chaz Ruggieri (PHYA) (2008) (rising senior)

"Jet Outflows of Young Stars and their Interaction with the Interstellar Medium,"

 Faculty Mentor:  Professor Adam Frank. Advised By:  Kristopher Yirak

The primary objective of my research in this program was to learn how to implement the AstroBEAR program to create three-dimensional clumped jet simulations for young stellar objects.  AstroBEAR is a hydrodynamic and magnetohydrodynamic code environment designed for a variety of astrophysical applications. It uses the BEARCLAW package, a multidimensional, Eulerian AMR-capable computational code written in Fortran to solve hyperbolic systems for astrophysical applications. AstroBEAR allows simulations in 2, 2.5 (i.e., cylindrical), and 3 dimensions, in either Cartesian or curvilinear coordinates. 

The REU program at University of Rochester opened my eyes to the world of research in physics.  It gave me a new perspective on graduate school.  Coming into the program, I saw graduate school as a largely gray area of my future.  It was something I thought I wanted to do, however I had no idea what to expect.  This program gave me a concrete idea of how graduate school works and how one would go about getting into graduate school.  Overall, this program has heightened my interest in pursuing graduate school research.  I would recommend this program for anyone who is uncertain about attending graduate school because it would give them hands-on experience with graduate level research.  One can then decide based on experience whether or not graduate school is the best path for him or her to follow.

Will Somers (PHYA) (2008) (internship-rising senior)

I did not complete an REU over the summer. However, I did work full time as an IT intern for Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical. It was a very rewarding experience and I learned a great deal from it. I got to provide technical advice for the executive team and provide technical support for both field and in house clients. Some of the more interesting jobs have included: cracking passwords for Windows XP machines, finding the location of a hacker who was trying to gain access to our FDA database, decrypting encrypted outlook pst files and various other projects. I feel that in many ways working full time was a much more rewarding experience than an REU would have been. I earned approx. double what I would have at an REU and had a great time. If you want/or need more info I'd be happy to send you an email or talk to you about my experience this summer, but like I said it was not an REU and not really physics related although I did use some programming skills and Mathematica sometimes.

Corey Tong (PHYH) (2008) (rising junior)

This past summer I researched at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. I participated in a program called B-SURE (biomedical summer undergraduate research experience).  This program differed from most other REUs done by previous physics students because it dealt with biomedical research. The point of the program was to bring a group of 10 students (most students were engineers, physics majors, math etc. but no bio majors were accepted) into research that is strictly biology. It may seem ironic to recruit non bio majors for biomedical research but the goal of the program was to bring students that have a strong background in mathematics, physics and engineering and get a different/quantitative approach to biological research. I worked in a structure biology lab that focused in determining the structure of a repression complex known as PRC1.

I went into this summer hoping to meet new friends and get an idea of what I want to do in two years. The experience was really wonderful even though research at times was tedious but overall it was really fun. We were sponsored by the NIH so they took us out several nights a week (and paid). The other students were really down to earth and I met several friends on the east coast that I still see on a monthly basis. I was emerged in an entirely different culture and really gained a lot of independence. As for the research, I enjoyed it greatly but I am still unsure about whether I would like to pursue research. I highly recommend any PHY-H majors to try a program like this. If you are not sure if strictly physics research is what you want to I would definitely explore your options. Also many PIís at UTHSCSA were physics majors turned biochemistry researchers.

Housing was arranged but we had to pay. We were given a stipend ~$5000 and travel was paid for. I definitely recommend an REU for anyone thinking about or wanting to pursue research.


Justin Nieusma (PHYA) (2007) (as a rising junior)

This past summer (2007) I had the opportunity to work at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center through an REU at the Institute for Astrobiology. This REU was a unique experience as it is a national REU which only accepted nine students.  It was a ten week research where I stayed at the nearby University of Maryland.  In addition to the free place to stay away from home and the considerable stipend ($3500, although you do need to provide your own food), I was able to tour a large number of the facilities at Goddard and learn about the current research taking place there.  Each student that took part in this worked one on one with a Goddard Scientist on their own research project in a variety of different fields.  I personally worked in the realm of spectroscopy, and more specifically with analyzing the Martian atmosphere for more specific chemical composition and basically building a map of what was present.  This is useful for a large number of reasons, and my focus in showing that for the final presentation, which is an internet broadcast six minute review of what you have done, was carbon dioxide as an indicator of surface pressure.  Other projects ranged from trying to detect extra solar planets to attempting to create amino acids in the lab.  All in all, I greatly enjoyed this summer experience and would certainly recommend applying to anyone.  Furthermore, I would like to note the importance of talking to your professors in this process of applying to REUs, as I would not have known about this opportunity without being told by a faculty member, as my internet searches had not found this REU.  So definitely apply, and make sure to apply to a lot of different places, as I actually had received multiple rejection letters before hearing back from Goddard, when that had been the one I felt least likely to get accepted to.


Knicole Colon (PHYA)(2006):

REU at Arecibo Observatory (as a rising senior):

My field of study was in astronomy, specifically concerning spectral analysis of masers in a massive star-forming region.  The title of my research was: "A Study of a the Massive Star-Forming Region IRAS 19111+1048."  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SITE!!!!!!!!!!!  Of course, you must like astronomy and/or engineering, because those are the main research areas at this site.  You can also apply if you are into programming, because a lot of students had projects involving IDL or other languages (SQL, etc).  The program coordinators helped us organize various trips, so the students literally traveled to a different place in Puerto Rico every weekend.  We went to Vieques Island, Mona Island, scuba diving, to El Yunque, to festivals, to the beach in San Juan, etc... the only issues we had is that we didnít have a car, but we cars can be rented kept them for a weekend or even a week.  Basically, the experience was amazing because you got to travel all over Puerto Rico and it was just amazing what you could see and do.  My salary was $4300+ for 10 weeks, but we had to pay for housing, which was $625.  The program covered one round-trip airfare from any location to Puerto Rico. Basically, check the NSF website for REU programs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Fischer (PHYA)(2006):

I participated in TCNJ's summer internship and studied fracture in silica glass.  I did find the experience overall very satisfying as I learned quite a bit of programming and was exposed to different computer applications than I was used to.  Additionally, I was given the opportunity to analyze data on my own, something that is true of all REUs, but something that won't necessarily happen to the normal undergraduate in our lab classes.  As for advice on applications, two things: I did apply to work at other places than TCNJ, but I only consulted the NSF site.  The NSF site is a good way to find REUs, but everyone else in the country knows that as well.  If you seriously want to go somewhere else for your REU, DO NOT JUST GO TO THE NSF WEBSITE.  Diversify your portfolio, so to speak.  Also DO NOT WAIT FOR THE DEADLINE TO APPLY.  Overall, I would say that is a really bad idea.  That's really all I can say on the subject, but I hope it was helpful.

John Gannon (PHYG)(2006):

I had an internship this summer with the Delaware River Basin Commission, an inter-state agency that monitors and mandates water usage and discharge throughout the Delaware River basin.  I was exposed to all kinds of work there in the field of Hydrology and Environmental Science.  I did everything from lab work to field work, going out in the ocean, and paddling down the upper Delaware in a canoe.  I also did some modeling work and other work concerning discharge sites, etc.  I learned a great deal.

They paid 9 or so dollars an hour.  It was a full time internship; they are located up here in West Trenton.  I found out about the internship from their website  The internship started the week after school ended and ended the week before school started.  It was a great experience.

Mike Richman (PHYA)(2006):

This summer I worked at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) on a parallel computing project: "Optimizing `Extender' C++ code for NCSX analyses".  NCSX is the National Compact Stellarator Experiment.  My task was to optimize the program for speed of execution and ease of use.  I was able to learn about parallel computing, code profiling, and numerous more minor points.  The first week was a crash course in plasma physics, which was, although very intense, also very informative.

I enjoyed the experience tremendously.  My research mentor and the other faculty were very helpful and encouraging.  The salary can't be beat -- $4800 for 10 weeks.  They cover air fare but not housing.  I commuted, but most students stayed together at a house nearby, and took a free bus to work.  PPPL organized all of this.  They also cover
all costs for a conference in the following fall (air fare, hotel, food...).  In general, I recommend applying there.  Fill out both the NUF and SULI applications -- they are totally separate, and include many research sites in addition to just PPPL.

AJ Richards (PHYA)(2006):

My REU was in the field of nuclear physics, conducted at the Triangle Universities Nuclear Lab at Duke.  We examined the cross-section of the reaction 11B + p -> 8Be + alpha.  This reaction has been proposed as an alternative to deuterium-tritium reactions for fusion power generation. I found the experience extremely cool, and loved my work.  It was great to do real physics in a lab, rather than just problems from a book. TCNJ has a great department, but just doesn't have access to the equipment that a school like Duke does.  That is the main point I would convey to the younger students here -- that the REU's give you experience working in a lab environment that we just don't have access to at TCNJ.  I absolutely recommend them to do an REU.  I received a stipend of $3400, plus a $900 allowance for food.  I drove to the REU, and my mileage was reimbursed.  It lasted 10 weeks.  The best way to find REU opportunities is the NSF website; they have a massive list of schools offering REUs.

Rising Juniors

Brandon Bentzley (PHYA)(2006):

-ECR Sputter Source at PPPL, Plasma Physics
-I was extremely satisfied.
-Salary: $4700 for SULI
-Housing -- you paid, they arranged. All travel was paid.
-Everybody else began during the beginning of June and stayed until the end of Aug. I was there from March until Aug. I got extra pay for extra hours.
-To apply, go to this web page and click on SULI --
- The benefit of applying through SULI is that you can send one application to multiple labs, indicating your preferences etc.
Overall, the experience was absolutely awesome. I got a chance to direct every aspect of the project I worked on, including buying supplies, allocating man-power, and deciding the path the project would take. However, this is not typical. About half of my work centered on building the sputter source. I worked in a machine shop, I ran miles of wire, and sent plans out to have engineers construct the more difficult pieces. The other half of my time was consumed by writing a LabView VI to control the sputter source. This was very difficult and I enjoyed the challenge. The people I worked with in the sputtering lab were awesome and we were social outside of the lab. I recommend PPPL to anybody considering spending there summers in a physics internship or REU.

Gabrielle Brochard (PHYA) (2006)(now MATA):

This summer I had an REU internship at SUNY Stony Brook in the field of nuclear physics.  I worked with two other REU students, three grad students, and Professor Thomas Hemmick in the construction of a never-before Hadron Blind Detector (HBD).  The HBD is the newest upgrade to the PHENIX detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Lab.  The HBD detects only high energy electrons by measuring the Cherenkov light they produce.  One of the most important features of this detector is that it is photo sensitive without being charge sensitive. This is accomplished by evaporating Cesium Iodide in high vacuum, depositing a thin layer onto a gold-plated GEM substrate.  I did hands on work in every part of the construction process including: working directly with the GEMs during the evaporation process, constructing transportation vessels for the finished GEMs, helping install the GEMs into the HBD inside a glove box, and creating a new circuit that would allow the evaporation process to be computer automated.  All of this work was done inside a clean room, because CsI is very sensitive to water vapor and dust particles in the air.

I was very satisfied with my internship.  Although I realized physics is not the right career for me, I had a lot of fun for the eight weeks I was at Stony Brook.  They provided me with on-campus housing, a meal plan, reimbursement of transportation expenses, and $3000.  We had keg parties for the physics department every Friday to take a break from work, and if we ever stayed at work late, our professor would treat us to a nice dinner.  It was a great environment to work in and the project was interesting and fun, and of course, like all physics, it was a lot of work.  It was really exciting to be able to do so much hands-on work.  We were given almost as much responsibility as the grad students, so it was a really good chance to see what grad school is like.  I highly recommend the REU program and the field of nuclear physics.  My project was definitely the most interesting one I saw at Stony Brook, and my group did the most hands-on work out of all the REU students there.  My internship was a great experience that taught me a lot about physics and life as a grad student, while being an overall fun time!

Mike Hvasta (PHYA) (2006):

I loved my time down at Rice.  The only thing I would have changed was keeping Houston about 1600 miles closer to home. 

My research focused on the mechanisms that allow certain semi-conductors to become conductive/reflective on a scale of 10-15 seconds.  I was one of two Americans in a lab of 8.  I was also one of four males.  It was a great way to mix up my perspective on people and places and their roles in physics. 

I worked a 9-6pm shift with an hour for lunch. I made this schedule for myself.  Typically I worked on the weekends just to keep myself occupied.  Without a car or an intimate knowledge of the Houston area it was difficult finding a good time whenever you wanted one.  However, I made pretty quick friends with the other 12+ people in my group.  My program took it upon them to organize weekend trips two times throughout the 10 weeks I was there. The pay was $3400 for 10 weeks.  They paid for my apartment and they also reimbursed me for my plane tickets. 

The sites I used were the NSF REU for Physics site.  Google "REU NSF" and a couple sites will pop up.  I selected Rice because I liked the topics they offered so far as research.

Chris Westenberger (PHYA) (2006): (as a rising sophomore)

This summer I worked for the Department of Defense at Picatinny Arsenal in the Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). This opportunity to work for ARDEC was made possible for me due to the existence of the Student Temporary Education Program which is hosted by Picatinny Arsenal. This program seeks to expose young students in the physical sciences and engineering fields to a wide array of different work experiences and to develop crucial skills needed in the professional career world. During the extent of my time working for ARDEC, much emphasis was put on the use of computer simulations and preliminary planning of future projects. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this internship was the extensive us of hydrocodes. Hydrocodes are computer programs which implement finite element analysis and methods of continuum mechanics which are primarily used in analysis of the dynamic response of certain materials to an external stimulus, be it an impact, thermodynamic change, or anything of the like. In order to insure these programs actually do represent a certain given situation correctly, the one using the program must have considerable understanding of finite element analysis, numerical methods, continuum mechanics, and partial differential equations in order to execute the program in a productive way. As can be seen, I had to learn all these topics in order to contribute something positive to whatever the current project was.

Perhaps one of the most positive aspects about working for the Department of Defense, or rather, the Federal Government, is that once youíre in the system, you will always be in the system. I was told by an employee at Picatinny Arsenal that if in the future after finishing school, if you are trying to compete for a job within the Federal Government, you will be preferred above other applicants for you are already in the Federal Governmentís system. Overall this was a great job considering the amount of knowledge, work experience, and money I achieved during my time working for ARDEC. 

Knicole Colon (PHYA) (2005):

REU at Lehigh University: (as a rising junior)

My field of study was in solid state physics, specifically concerning defect molecules in semiconducting materials.  The title of my research was: "Annealing Study of Vibrational Lines of NH2 Complexes in GaPN."  My topic made me work mostly in the lab, which was actually pretty easy to do once I got the hang of it, and I learned a lot from it in general.  Plus, the graduate students I worked with were very nice and easygoing.  I would recommend the site to others mainly because it is close to New Jersey, so it is easy to commute to see family and friends on the weekends (of which you have completely to do yourself).  Also, it is pretty up there, with the hills and all that, and Lehigh actually has a nice campus.  Plus, they provide you with free housing which is located close to the labs.  Overall the experience I had was a good one, especially because I learned a lot about a topic I would have never gotten experience with at TCNJ (although it is not my main topic of interest for graduate school).  Keep in mind that it can get pretty boring if you don't bring your car.  My salary was $4000 for the 10 weeks, and they provided free housing (like I said before).  No meal plan was provided but there is a kitchen you can use to cook for yourself.  If you don't bring a car, a lot of people from Lehigh are in the REU and they have cars so you can go food shopping with them.

Overall experience: A- (only because my topic was not something I was extremely interested in, even though I learned a lot)


(last updated on 10/14/08)