University of Wisconsin-Madison

International Research Experiences

Particle Astrophysics for Undergraduates: International Research Experiences to Excite, Engage, and Train Next Generation STEM Professionals

The goal of this NSF International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) funded program is to develop globally engaged US science and engineering students. Undergraduate students will have an opportunity to experience a new culture while contributing to international research. IceCube Collaboration members in Belgium, Germany, and Sweden will provide particle astrophysics research experiences for undergraduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The IceCube IRES program will offer a total of 18 ten-week research experiences for undergraduates in STEM fields over three to four summers. The first two students went to Belgium for the 2014 summer, and the plan is to send at least four new students to Germany in the 2015 summer. Students in 2016 will travel to Sweden. IceCube is committed to diversity and providing opportunities to students with limited options for undergraduate research. At least one third of participants will be from underrepresented groups and/or two-year colleges. At all locations, travel, living expenses, and a stipend are provided.

A two-step approach is taken to optimize the impact of the international research experience. In the first step, undergraduate students participate in an intensive summer internship with a US IceCube collaborator. They receive intensive training in a weeklong science and software “boot camp” at UW–Madison for new researchers to get up to speed on IceCube topics and learn how to access and analyze data. The setting is rigorous but relaxed and provides a chance for the undergraduate students to interact with all levels of IceCube personnel, including graduate students, postdocs, research scientists, faculty, and technical staff. The second step is the international research experience the following summer with a European IceCube Collaboration partner on a mutually agreed upon topic.

Two students, Rami Jubara and Anna Christenson spent the 2014 summer in Brussels to work with the IceCube groups at Université libre de Bruxelles and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Their research concentrated on the calibrating geometry of stations for a “sister project” in Antarctica, the Askaryan Radio Array (ARA). ARA is designed to detect and measure high-energy neutrinos from space by observing the radio pulses generated by interactions in the ice. Understanding the geometry of the ARA stations is important for accurately reconstructing neutrino energies.

Click here for more information and an application for 2015.