Physics REU Program at UK Now Accepting Applications

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 3, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences is currently accepting applicants for its summer 2021 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. The program is open to undergraduates majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28.

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the 10-week “Research in Symmetries” program will take place June 7-Aug. 13, 2021, on UK’s campus. The program focuses on individually mentored research projects in nuclear physics, condensed matter physics and astronomy, through the central theme of symmetry. The program is tailored for second and third year undergraduates with an emphasis on accessibility for underrepresented groups.

"The NSF REU program is an excellent opportunity for students of all backgrounds to participate in an immersive research experience, which will complement their undergraduate coursework,” said Christopher Crawford, professor in the department and principal investigator for the REU. “This approach allows students to discover life as a professional scientist before committing to graduate school.”

Undergraduates attending community and technical colleges and regional universities in rural Kentucky and Appalachia are encouraged to apply. By recruiting students from this region and encouraging them to share their experiences with their teachers and peers, the UK team hopes to establish research ties with these institutions and enhance STEM education in the region. 

“For the first time, we have a physics program targeting STEM students from Kentucky and Appalachia,” Crawford said. “We encourage applications from students who are brand new to research or come from a college without local research opportunities, as well as undergraduates with significant research experience." 

Six participants will be selected to join a research program of a UK faculty mentor funded by NSF, the Department of Energy or NASA, working alongside graduate students and postdocs in the lab. Students can expect to produce publishable results in these areas at the frontiers of physics and astronomy.

The program also includes professional development through a series of seminars and workshops, and specific technical training in computation and data analysis. Students will present results at a local poster session and be encouraged to present at national conferences. The program features social activities and a day-excursion to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Each participant will receive a $6,000 stipend, round-trip travel expenses to Lexington, and be provided with free on-campus housing, including a meal plan. Selected students will be funded to travel to a regional or national conference to give a presentation on their research results.

For more information, visit  or contact

About the REU

The UK Department of Physics and Astronomy received the $320,000 REU award from NSF last year, marking an important milestone for the department and the college as the only physics REU program in Kentucky.

The Department of STEM Education, based in the UK College of Education, is partnering with the Department of Physics and Astronomy to conduct assessment, research and evaluation of the REU program. Jennifer Wilhelm, professor in the department and co-principal investigator for the REU award, will conduct research and evaluation of the effectiveness of the mentoring arrangement with the undergraduate fellows, the impact of the REU activities, and the REU students’ development and learning of contemporary physics research content and skills.

Read more here.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.