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Research Experiences for Teachers and Undergraduates

The summer of 2001 marks the beginning of two new outreach programs at the Institute for Astronomy, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experiences for Teachers (RET). The REU program is supported by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF is also providing supplementary funds for the RET program. Jim Heasley is the program chair for the NSF grant, and Karen Meech is the assistant program chair.

Back row: REU Program Chair Jim Heasley, and REU students Brett Unks, Ann Marie Cody, and Mark Pitts. Middle row: REU students Andrea Urban, Joy Lambert, Meghan McGarry, and RET participant Mary Kadooka. Front row: RET participant Tom Chun and REU Assistant Program Chair Karen Meech.

The REU program provides undergraduates considering a career in science with the opportunity to engage in research with professional astronomers working on cutting-edge problems in astrophysics. The REU students are full-time research assistants to a faculty mentor for 10—12 weeks during the summer and work on specific aspects of an ongoing research program.

The REU program was advertised over the Internet and by direct mailings to over 800 colleges and universities across the country. The response to our recruiting was a whopping 147 complete applications. From this pool, six students were selected for summer internships at the IfA. The students receive travel money and a stipend to cover living expenses.

The six students come from Harvard, Alfred University, UC Berkeley, Ohio State, North Carolina State, and the University of Arizona. Their IfA faculty mentors are Ann Boesgaard, Dave Tholen, Mike Liu, Bob Joseph, Jeff Kuhn, and George Herbig.

The REU students are joined by teachers Tom Chun (Kamehameha Schools) and Mary Kadooka (McKinley High School). Both are former participants in the TOPS teacher enhancement workshops (see article on page 4). The teachers are working with Drs. Meech and Heasley on the analysis of observations of Kuiper Belt objects obtained at the UH 2.2-meter telescope and are participating in this ongoing observing program.

The purpose of the project the RET participants are undertaking is to begin developing a science curriculum that will make use of observations taken on the Faulkes Telescope, an educational/outreach telescope that has been proposed for Haleakala. Since the UH 2.2-meter telescope is about the same size as the proposed Faulkes Telescope, the observations approximate those of the Faulkes.

The REU and RET programs have received additional support from Sun Microsystems, which has generously loaned the IfA a Sunray server and eight workstation displays for participants' use.