The summer of 2011 was a banner year for Wesleyan students doing research in astronomy. No fewer than SIX of our students obtained competitive REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) assistantships sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Alexandra Truebenbach spent the summer in Puerto Rico at the Arecibo Radio Observatory. Phillip Adams and Nora Dumont were in Sunspot, New Mexico at the National Solar Observatory while Alissa Fersch was in Tucson, Arizona at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. Ben Tweed spent the summer at Colgate University in New York, while David Amrhein split time between Williams College in Massachusetts and Hawaii, where he observed an occultation of Pluto by its moon, Charon.
All of this follows on the heals of a rare experience last year for senior astronomy major Craig Malamut. He joined an expedition to Easter Island to observe a total solar eclipse of the Sun. For more on Craig’s adventures and studies, please see the article about him in the latest issue of the Wesleyan Connection.
If you are a Wesleyan undergraduate interested in astronomy now is the time to start thinking about research for next summer. A good starting place is the Web site of the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium. You will find information about KNAC’s REU program and also links to other REU programs across the nation. Also, if you are passing by the poster outside of the classroom in the Observatory, take a look! There are many opportunities available. Application deadlines are approaching, so it is best to start looking now. What better way to spend your summer?!