Honors Research Projects

Explore the exciting Honors research projects that Astronomy undergraduates have worked on over the years. Most of their projects were coordinated through the resources listed below.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities (on Campus)

A variety of research experiences are available for undergraduates at the University of Maryland. Students with an interest in performing research, either independently or in conjunction with faculty and graduate students, should contact the person identified below or the Undergraduate Astronomy Advisor, Dr. Melissa Hayes-Gehrke. Other astronomy opportunities may be available through the Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research program.

Center for Theory and Computation

The Maryland Astronomy Center for Theory and Computation promotes excellence and innovation in theoretical astrophysics. Besides pursuing cutting-edge research in astrophysics, there is an emphasis on developing state-of-the-art computational tools. For more information contact Dr. Derek Richardson.

Lab for Millimeter-Wave Astronomy

The Laboratory for Millimeter-Wave Astronomy in the Astronomy Department studies the interstellar medium, star formation in our galaxies and other galaxies, and the formation and evolution of galaxies through the millimeter wavelength radio emission from molecular gas and dust. The Lab is an active research environment involving professors, research scientists, graduate students and undergraduates. If you are interested in doing science and/or instrumentation work with us, look at our research page. Please contact Dr. Lee Mundy for information about current opportunities.

Extragalactic Astronomy Group

The Maryland Extragalactic Observational Group utilizes optical, radio, and X-ray astronomy in an attempt to understand the origin, dynamics, and evolution of galaxies. Areas of faculty interest include Seyfert galaxies, low surface brightness galaxies, galaxy formation, black hole driven activity in galaxies, and starbursts in galaxies. For more information, contact Dr. Alberto Bolatto.

Planetary Astronomy Group

The Maryland Planetary Group seeks to understand the origin and evolution of the Solar System. Current projects include analysis of data from NASA's Deep Impact mission that collided with comet Tempel 1 in 2005, EPOXI (an extension of the Deep Impact mission to comet Hartley 2), the Dawn mission to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, the Messenger mission to Mercury, the Rosetta mission to comet 67P, the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the Small Bodies Node of the Planetary Data Systems (an archive of solar system data), and dynamic modeling using cutting-edge parallel processing technology. For more information, contact Dr. Doug Hamilton.

Space and Plasma Physics Group

The Maryland Plasma Physics Group studies plasmas in space and in the laboratory. Interests include solar-terrestrial effects, high altitude lightning, magnetospheres and ionospheres of other planets and comets, solar radio bursts, and shocks in supernovae. For more information, contact Dr. Surja Sharma.

Astronomy Workshop

Students with programming experience are needed for the Astronomy Workshop project (the development of web based tools to facilitate undergraduate astronomy education). For more information, contact Dr. Doug Hamilton.

Off-Campus Research Opportunities

NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Many summer opportunities exist for undergraduates in astronomy, physics, and engineering. The National Science Foundation (NSF) offers the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Students are paired with mentors to pursue 10-12 week research projects during the summer. Participants are selected on a competitive basis and groups of 6-10 students are chosen for each site. In addition to a stipend, some include housing and a roundtrip airline ticket. For more information, see NSF's list of institutions with active REU programs. (AAS' Division for Planetary Sciences has a shorter list for applicants specifically interested in planetary science.) Applications are usually due in January or February.


Dozens of internships are available at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD, during the summer and school year. See NASA's Internship, Fellowship, and Scholarship search page to look for opportunities for U.S. citizens. (There is a separate webpage with opportunities for non-U.S. citizens.) Sometimes, a successful summer experience leads to continued employment during the academic year. These applications are typically due at the beginning of March. The CRESST II partnership between GSFC, UMD, and other institutions also has summer internships at GSFC, with a deadline usually in February.

NASA has a variety of internship programs. Financial assistance may be provided at high-cost NASA regional centers. Some locations, including Goddard Space Flight Center, also offer the program during academic semesters, so it is possible to participate while taking classes.

Space Telescope Science Institute (Baltimore)

STScI has a Space Astronomy Summer Program as well as other internships where students engage in astronomical research, public outreach and education, or mission support and software development. STScI manages operations for the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. Applications are typically due in late January.

Applied Physics Laboratory (Laurel)

APL has a Internships at their facility in Laurel in which students contribute to NASA missions and space-related research work. Applications are typically due in late March.

U.S. Naval Observatory / Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO) offers paid and volunteer summer internships. The deadline for application is sometimes as early as November. NRL also has student opportunities.

National Air and Space Museum

NASM offers paid internships during the summer (typical deadline mid-Feb.) and during the academic year. Positions are available in areas like aviation or space history, planetary science, digital experience, exhibit and graphic design, communications, finance, and education.

National Academies

The National Academies' Space Studies Board offers paid Berkner Space Policy Internships to undergraduate and graduate students to work in the area of space research policy in D.C. Undergrads must have completed their junior year; non-U.S. citizens are eligible. Internships are at least 10 weeks and are offered in the summer and (usually) fall. Typical deadlines are early Feb. (summer) and early June (fall).

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy operates an unpaid Student Volunteer Program. Volunteers work closely with senior White House officials and science and technology policy analysts. There are Spring, Summer, and Fall terms, each of 90 days. Only U.S. citizens are eligible. Typical deadlines are late May (fall), late Oct. (spring), and late Feb. (summer).

BTAA Summer Research Opportunities Program

The Big Ten Academic Alliance runs the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP). Successful applicants work on summer research projects at one of the various BTAA institutions. The program seeks to increase graduate school access for groups underrepresented in graduate education, such as students from low-income families. Applicants must have a 3.0 minimum GPA and a strong interest in pursuing a Ph.D. Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible. Typical deadlines are early-mid Feb.

General Information

The AstroBetter wiki compiles national and international astronomy internships, workshops, and summer schools.

The AAS Internships & Summer Jobs list shows summer schools, research opportunities, etc..

Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology II    Joint Space-Science Center    Two intriguing investigations -- One flight-proven spacecraft    UMd Astronomy-Cote d'Azur Observatory Scientific Cooperation and Academic Exchange