Resources for Undergraduates

Explore opportunities to participate in cutting-edge astrophysics research with an international network of scientists.

Students Working on Telescope

Undergraduate students installing a radio receiver on a telescope at the Green Bank Observatory.

Individual Research Projects

Students conduct one-on-one research with faculty mentors at NANOGrav member institutions. This work ranges in complexity from introductory projects to advanced senior thesis work. In some cases, undergraduate research fulfills core NANOGrav science goals (such as analyzing timing observations of millisecond pulsars). In others, undergraduates exploit sensitive NANOGrav datasets to explore related research areas (such as studies of the interstellar medium or pulsar mass measurements). Many undergraduates work on related research not directly using NANOGrav datasets (such as of rotating radio transients or supernova remnants, the latter with both radio and X-ray telescopes).

Overview of our latest NANOGrav gravitational-wave search results, stemming from a dataset to which several undergraduate students have contributed.

NANOStars Program

The NANOGrav Student Teams of Astrophysics ResearcherS (NANOStars) involves undergraduates in various NANOGrav science and outreach activities in a team-based environment. There are currently a number of NANOStars groups (known as Clusters) around the country. All of the NANOStars institutions are members of the NANOGrav consortium.

There are also regularly scheduled NANOStars teleconferences where all of the NANOStars teams and faculty from all of the NANOStars institutions around the country meet via video teleconference to hear student and faculty presentations and to discuss any business that pertains to NANOStars as a whole.

The student engagement through NANOStars is important for interacting and networking between teams and institutions, and gives students a chance to see and learn about NANOGrav science and research opportunities.

Examples of work that NANOStars students conduct each semester include:

  1. Analyzing pulsar search data collected by the NANOGrav telescopes (e.g., the GBT) to look for new pulsars that might be present in the data. NANOStars students have discovered a number of new pulsars in this manner in the past few years.
  2. Quicklook timing data quality checks to ensure that timing data collected from NANOGrav telescopes is not corrupted.
  3. Occasional search and timing observing tasks with the GBT.
  4. Observations with the Green Bank 20-m telescope for monitor giant radio pulses, a magnetar, and interstellar scintillation effects
  5. GW sensitivity calculations for individual sources
  6. Outreach programs such as the Space Public Outreach Team (SPOT) and the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC) which interface with high school students.
  7. Leadership opportunities (for undergraduate team leaders) in managing and training small groups of more junior students in research activities under the guidance of the faculty mentor.

Opportunities for Undergraduates

Student kneeling in field of scientific equipment

Student Research Experiences Abroad

Participate in research experiences with international partners in countries such as China, South Africa, Australia, and India.

Students visiting the GBT

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Find summer 2023 REU programs at NANOGrav institutions.