This award supports the renewal of the physics Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site at the University of California, Davis. Each year, the REU program will provide ten or eleven students from around the United States an opportunity to participate in a ten-week summer research program. REU students work closely with a faculty mentor on a ten-week research project in a variety of physics subfields. The projects span the subfields of astrophysics, biophysics, complex systems, condensed matter, nuclear and particle physics. Examples include developing new photomultipliers for dark matter searches, analyzing spectroscopic data to learn about the molecules present in distant planet-forming regions, designing new proteins with useful energy storage properties, and exploring strongly correlated materials through nuclear magnetic resonance.
In addition to their specific research project, the students learn from their interactions with faculty, graduate students, and other REU students, and from field trips showing physics-related work in diverse settings -- students will visit facilities such as the McClellan Nuclear Research Center, Lick Observatory, and the Advanced Light Source. Former UC Davis REU students now working in the San Francisco Bay Area will also describe their career paths to current participants. At the end of the program, each participant gives a formal research presentation and presents a written project report that can lead to a peer reviewed publication. Taken as a whole, the REU activities teach skills useful for further scientific endeavors, give students a broad perspective on possible future paths, and help them build a network of professional contacts. The program especially targets students from small colleges with limited research opportunities and those from groups underrepresented in physics, including women and students from certain minority groups.