Last week the Boulder Solar Alliance Research Experience for Undergraduates (BSA REU) program concluded its sixteenth summer session. Seventeen students from across the nation spent 10 weeks in Boulder, Colorado conducting professional research on a wide variety of solar and space physics topics. These ranged from characterizing active regions on the Sun (and their relevance to space weather forecasting), to engineering wire harnesses for a future CubeSat mission, to exploring the effects of a young Sun on the clouds of Venus.
The BSA REU program is a paid research experience for highly motivated undergraduate students interested in solar and space physics. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the program’s primary goal is to introduce students to authentic research, in particular those without ready access to research opportunities at their home institutions. The Boulder Solar Alliance consists of multiple research institutes located in Boulder, Colorado, including the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, the National Solar Observatory, the High Altitude Observatory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Southwest Research Institute, and the NorthWest Research Associates.
In addition to conducting hands-on research, the students participated in professional development sessions. These covered several topics, including understanding imposter syndrome, how to apply to graduate school, and more. The students also had the opportunity to network with scientists in the field and gain a better understanding of the different career paths available in the astrophysics community.
During the last week of the program, the students had the opportunity to present the results of their research to the alliance members. Each student gave a 20-minute oral presentation and participated in an interactive poster session.
Applications for the 2024 Boulder Solar Alliance REU program will open in mid-November 2023. The BSA REU site is funded by the NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, award #1950911.
-Written by Willow Reed, LASP communications specialist