Physics Department: REU Projects - Astronomy/Astrophysics

Prof. Timothy Beers
Email: tbeers (at)

The Chemical Evolution and Assembly of the Milky Way: Prof. Beers and his group work on exploring the history of the element production in the Universe, making use of stellar probes from large-scale surveys for metal-poor stars, including the recent trove of information from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). For example, studies based on these data have shown recently that the very first generations of massive stars produced copious amounts of light elements, such as carbon and nitrogen. The REU student will become involved with the analysis and inspection of the stellar spectra from SDSS, as well as other recent surveys, in order to contribute to a number of ongoing projects specific to the assembly of the Milky Way galaxy and the nature of its constituent populations.

Prof. Justin Crepp
Email: jcrepp (at)

Professor Justin R. Crepp’s experimental astrophysics laboratory is developing new and innovative technologies to detect extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. A number of different approaches and techniques are being pursued; most involve correcting for the image-blurring effects introduced by Earth's turbulent atmosphere. The primary goal of our program is to design, prototype, and test instruments for large ground-based telescopes, such as the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona and twin Keck Telescopes in Hawaii, that enable the discovery and subsequent characterization of terrestrial planets, including those orbiting in the habitable zone. Prospective REU students with an interest in instrumentation and/or computer programming are encouraged to apply.

Prof. Jeffrey Chilcote
Email: jchilcot (at)

Professor Jeffrey Chilcote studies focus on the construction of astronomical instruments and the direct detection and characterization of extrasolar planets. While thousands of planets have been discovered to date, most are only observed by their effect upon their parent star. Direct imaging of extrasolar planets involves blocking, suppressing, and subtracting the light of the bright parent star so that a planet hundreds of thousands of times fainter can be seen and studied in detail. Prof. Chilcote’s instrumentation lab works with telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to construct and deploy these sophisticated instruments on sky. REU students will be involved with ongoing instrumentation work and/or the analysis of performance data from these high contrast instruments.