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Undergraduate Research at Berkeley

 

Those listed below have all expressed interest in having undergraduates work with them. Contact them individually to find out more about a specific research project.

Name:

Joshua Bloom

Contact:

jbloom {at} astro.berkeley.edu

Description:

Visit Professor Bloom's wiki for details.

Term:

Summer or academic year.

Name:

Dmitry Budker

Contact:

dbudker {at} gmail.com, 151 LeConte Hall

Description:

Many undergraduates participate in research in various projects carried out by our group. We typically recruit undergraduates via the URAP program. The URAP projects page typically has a description of the projects, and lists the openings.

Term:

Academic year and summer.

Prerequisites:

We are particularly interested in students with expertise in electronics and interest in space-borne instrumentation.

Pay:

Contact for details.

Credit:

As appropriate, contact for details.

Additional Information:

Research web page: http://budker.berkeley.edu/.

Name:

Eugene Chiang

Contact:

Send transcript of grades to echiang {at} astro.berkeley.edu

Description:

Theoretical project on protoplanetary disks: calculate rotation profiles including self-gravity and pressure gradients, in anticipation of high angular resolution observations of disks by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array.

Term:

Spring 2011 semester (as early as January) and onward. Minimum of ten hours per week initially. Possibility of 6-week trip during Summer 2011 to Kavli Institute for Astronomy in Beijing.

Prerequisites:

Physics major (Astronomy double major helpful but not required), GPA >= 3.7. Programming skills (Unix; C, IDL, Fortran, and/or Python; graphics packages) required.

Pay:

None for Spring 2011; possible for Summer 2011 and afterwards.

Credit:

Students can get course credit.

Name:

Marc Davis

Contact:

mdavis {at} astro.berkeley.edu

Description:

Work related to DEEP2, a large scale survey of distant field galaxies using the Keck Telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope. For more information, visit the DEEP2 homepage.

Term:

Academic year, with possibility of staying on for the summer

Name:

Imke de Pater

Contact:

imke {at} berkeley.edu

Description:

Various projects related to planetary science; use of infrared planetary data (from e.g., Keck); potential radio projects. See link below for details.

Term:

Academic year, possibly summer.

Prerequisites:

Introductory astronomy courses, IDL experience useful.

Pay:

Contact for details.

Credit:

Through the URAP program, 1 credit per 3h of research per week.

Additional Information:

See the website for past and ongoing projects. Apply through the URAP program.

Name:

Alex Filippenko

Contact:

alex {at} astro.berkeley.edu

Description:

The Lick Observatory Supernova Search with the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope. The basic idea is to use a CCD on KAIT to obtain images of about 1000 galaxies each night, and to automatically compare the new images with old ones in search of supernovae, which brighten suddenly. Humans must still check the candidates found by the computer software, because the automatic program registers quite a few false alarms. My students learn how to analyze astronomical images with existing software packages, write and debug their own computer programs, read and study published papers on supernovae, and so on. They receive official credit (on IAU Circulars) for supernovae that they discover. As they master the tricks of the trade, some of the upper-division students also learn how to derive accurate light curves from follow-up data that we obtain, and become coauthors on the resulting publications in refereed journals. The most advanced students even take charge of writing up their results for publication.

Term:

At least 1 year. (The time commitment during the summer is only about 5 hours per week. The time commitment during the academic year can be minimal, as low as 2 hours per week, if the student's courseload is large.)

Prerequisites:

Excellent knowledge of introductory astronomy, preferably at the Astronomy 7AB level (but outstanding performance in Astronomy 10 may be sufficient in some cases).

Pay:

None, at least for the first year or two.

Credit:

Students can get course credit.

Name:

Brian Welsch

Contact:

welsch {at} ssl.berkeley.edu

Description:

My colleagues and I research magnetic field evolution on the Sun, using both numerical models (from magnetohydrodynamic simulations) and observations (typically, time series of 2D maps of the magnetic field at the photosphere, inferred from spectropolarimetry -- polarization measurements in optical absorption lines). Our goals are to characterize the dynamo processes that generate magnetic fields, and to understand how magnetic fields release energy in flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Students will learn about: analyzing large data cubes; writing and using interpretive software to understand data; presenting results at scientific meetings; and, if appropriate, preparation of a manuscript for publication in a scientific journal. We basically have too much data, and not enough time, so our need is ongoing; that said, we can only employ 1-2 students at a time, so our need is variable.

Term:

Academic year and summer work: 8 - 10 hours/week in academic year, 40 hours/week in summer.

Prerequisites:

Experience with the IDL language is strongly preferred, familiarity with Fortran and C useful. Familiarity using computers in the Linux environment is preferred.

Pay:

typically $12 per hour, or course credit; higher pay for more experience.

Credit:

course credit as appropriate

Name:

Philip Marcus

Contact:

pmarcus {at} me.berkeley.edu, 642-5942

Description:

Projects in planetary atmospheres and in planet formation. Planetary atmospheres projects include: Extracting velocity fields from sequences of telescope or satellite images of moving clouds. Creating algorithms and software to detect atmospheric waves and deduce dispersion relations. Planet Formation projects include writing or running codes to track dust in protoplanetary disks. Movie--making of numerical simulations.

Term:

During the academic year, the expected commitment is on average 10 hours a week (or equivalent to a 3-4 unit independent research course for credit. During the academic year, I would prefer if the research were associated with an official research course in which the student is registered for academic credit, and not an informal arrangement.) During the summer, full time, or 40 hours per week.

Prerequisites:

2 years of math and physics. Computational skills are required. Preferably Fortran, Matlab, and/or C.

Pay:

Pay offered for full-time summer employment.

Credit:

Research units and/or senior thesis

Additional Information:

Official Website

Name:

Joseph Richards

Contact:

joeyrichar {at} gmail.com

Description:

There are a variety of projects available to students interested in computational astrostatistics research. These include:
- Anomaly detection in transient and variable star surveys: finding rare events and new science classes
- Using distance-based light curve shape features for transient classification
- Deriving novel light-curve features for classification through genetic programming
- Estimating science-class taxonomies from data

Term:

Prerequisites:

Pay:

Credit:

Additional Information:

Center for Time Domain Informatics

Name:

Steven Stahler

Contact:

HFA C-256, SStahler {at} astro.berkeley.edu, 510-967-9050

Description:

I work on almost every aspect of star formation theory, and have had excellent collaborations with undergraduates, several of which resulted in published papers. Some examples of topics include: the collapse of an interstellar cloud to form a protostar, the effect of powerful stellar winds and radiation pressure on such collapse, the role of magnetic fields in star formation, and the formation of stellar clusters.

Term:

this academic year and next summer; 2 hours per week of meeting time, roughly 10 hours total of work time

Prerequisites:

Classes: current or previous enrollment in AY160; Abilities: some experience solving differential equations on computers

Pay:

none

Credit:

to be decided

Additional Information:

We will probably be using a publicly available code, but some background in stellar astrophysics would help

Name:

Dan Werthimer

Contact:

211 Space Sciences Addition, danw {at} ssl.berkeley.edu

Description:

Berkeley conducts 7 programs searching for extra terrestrial intelligence (SETI) at IR, visible and radio wavelengths. These seven Berkeley SETI programs search for a wide variety of signal types and span a large range of time scales: SETI@home searches for radio signals using the Arecibo Radio Telescope with time scales ranging from mS to seconds. SEVENDIP searches for nS time scale pulses at visible wavelengths. Astropulse searches for dispersed uS time scale radio pulses from extraterrestrial civilizations, pulsars, or evaporating primordial black holes. SERENDIP and SPOCK search for continuous narrow band signals in the radio and optical bands respectively. DYSON searches for infrared excess from advanced civilizations that consume vast amounts of energy.

Opportunities are available for ambitious undergraduate students in astrophysics, physics, mathematics and statistics, electrical engineering and computer science to work on these projects in numerous capacities, from the development of DSP algorithms and instrumentation to collect data, to installation of new instrumentation at remote observing facilities and finally analysis and data reduction. There are also opportunities to work on the development of outreach programs and materials to engage the public in how we seek to answer the fundamental question: "Are we Alone?"

Term:

Flexible, contact for details. Preference would be given to students available to work during Summer.

Prerequisites:

Minimum: moderate computer skills. Preferred: Introductory astronomy coursework (Astro 7A, 7B, AY121), students having advanced experience with Unix operating systems and TCP/IP networking, experience with Fourier transforms and DSP, high performance computing experience (heterogenous computing, CPU/GPU hybrids, CUDA, OpenCL)

Pay:

Competitive, depends on experience.

Credit:

Course credit is available in Astronomy, Physics or EECS. Contact for details.

Additional Information:

Additional information on Berkeley SETI programs is available at seti.berkeley.edu and setiathome.berkeley.edu.

Description:

The Center for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research (CASPER) is a worldwide radio astronomy digital signal processing community, born at Berkeley, that uses shared hardware development, signal processing libraries, and instrument architectures to reduce the development time of digital instrumentation and to improve time-to-science for a wide variety of projects. The CASPER collaboration embraces an open source design philosophy at multiple levels, from the printed circuit board designs for field programmable gate array (FPGA)-based computing elements to gateware and control software for specific instruments. This concept enables disparate research groups to share risk, development and support responsibilities, and it has spawned a library of readily modifiable reference instrument designs.

Working with CASPER, students from a variety of majors, including astrophysics, can work on the very cutting edge of available technology developing next-generation radio astronomy instruments. Advanced students could eventually take the lead in designing and deploying an instrument at nearby radio telescopes, including the recently commissioned Allen Telescope Array. A few specific projects students could work on are listed here.

Term:

Flexible, contact for details. Preference would be given to students available to work during Summer.

Prerequisites:

Work with CASPER is well suited for students with advanced computer skills and a background in electronics. For Astronomy students, minimum coursework requirements would generally be Astronomy 7A, 7B and past or concurrent enrollment in Radio Astronomy Laboratory (AY121). Exceptions may be made for students with extensive previous experience in electrical engineering or computer science.

Pay:

Competitive, depends on experience.

Credit:

Course credit is available in Astronomy, Physics or EECS. Contact for details.

Additional Information:

Additional information on the CASPER is available at casper.berkeley.edu.