Discovery Magazine

The SARA REU Site Program

This grant will fund the continuation of a productive REU program led by Dr. Batcheldor at Florida Institute of Technology. The astronomy internships in this REU program are to work with mentors and institutions that are part of the Southeast Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA), a consortium of 10 universities located primarily in the southeastern U.S.

Ten astronomy internships are available in a 9-to-10-week program that includes a 2-hour course on scientific ethics. Over a dozen research topics are offered to the students; the topics range from solar system studies to cataclysmic variable stars and active galactic nuclei. The program also includes two-day workshops at the start and end of a "semester" where all of the participants (both students and mentors) gather together to share experiences and review the activities of the summer.

This program uses social media like Facebook, blogs and email list servers to keep all of the participants connected and up-to-date with the program activities. The very nature of an REU site results in a broader impact, in terms of educational activities. These astronomy internships serve a range of students; some go on to careers in astronomy and some find that the experience sets them on a different career path, yet one that is well-served by involvement in the REU program. In this particular program all 10 of the students will use the SARA Observatory in Arizona during the course of their summer research activities.

At the conclusion of the program all students will be required to present a talk on their research project and will be required to publish a paper in the undergraduate research journal JSARA ( The most promising students also travel to a professional meeting to present their results.