Grant extends Heliophysics Research Experience for Undergraduates

Heliophysics Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program participants

Heliophysics Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program participants are, from left: Front – Sarah Antonsson, Esraa Ahmad, Amber Lenon, Demitri Baptiste, Anna Leah Ernst, Louis Ortiz-Flores. Back – Justin Johnson, program principal investigator Dr. Jacob Heerikhuisen, Amanda Sleinkotes, MSFC’s Dr. Amy Winebarger, program coordinator Samaiyah Farid, Derik Tropf and James McGall.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Just underway, this year’s summer gathering of 10 undergraduate students from across the country to spend 10 weeks in The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Heliophysics Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program also marks a new beginning for the program itself.

Funded for the past three years via a $353,355 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the program begins this year with a new, five-year, $621,923 NSF grant.

"Last year, we wrote and submitted a new proposal to the NSF to continue the REU," says Dr. Jacob Heerikhuisen, an associate professor in the Dept. of Space Science, co-director of UAH’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) and principle investigator for the NSF grant. "Our NSF funding supports 10 students each year."

One of our great strengths is the partnership with the MSFC solar physics group, who generally mentor half of the students, with UAH faculty and scientists mentoring the other half.

Dr. Jacob Heerikhuisen
Program principle investigator

REU students spend their time working with scientists from either NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) or CSPAR on research projects related to various topics in heliophysics. Students are paired with mentors specializing in heliophysics research from the solar interior to the heliopause. Their learning includes theory, modeling, computer simulations, data analysis and instrument design.

"One of our great strengths is the partnership with the MSFC solar physics group, who generally mentor half of the students, with UAH faculty and scientists mentoring the other half," says Dr. Heerikhuisen.

MSFC’s Amy Winebarger is the co-principle investigator for the NSF program grant and Samaiyah Farid of CSPAR is the REU program coordinator.

Students attending this year:

  • Esraa Ahmad, University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Sarah Antonsson, University of the Pacific, Calif.
  • Dimitri Baptiste, University of West Florida
  • Annaleah Ernst, Harvard, Mass.
  • Justin Johnson, Morehouse College, Ga.
  • Amber Lenon, Syracuse University, N.Y.
  • James McGall, Salisbury University, Md.
  • Amanda Sleinkofer, Millersville University, Pa.
  • Derek Tropf, The College of Idaho
  • Luis Ortiz, University of Puerto Rico, Humacao, P.R.

"They receive a $5,000 stipend and we pay for them to stay in UAH student housing for the entire 10-week period," Dr. Heerikhuisen says. "But obviously, the best thing they receive is a chance to work with internationally renowned scientists on projects that are at the forefront of current science."

At the end of the summer, the goal is for each student to produce a poster of his or her work that will be submitted to the American Geophysical Union Conference held each year in San Francisco. There is $1,000 in travel assistance available to help them to attend the conference.

 

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