Undergraduate Research at the SETI Institute in Astrobiology (USRA): a Partnership Between the SETI Institute and San Jose State University

Grant #: NNX10AI61G
Senior Scientist: Cynthia Phillips

Students who participate in hands-on undergraduate research projects are more likely to pursue advanced degrees in STEM disciplines (Russell et al., Science 316, 548-549, 2007). The SETI Institute and San Jose State University propose an Undergraduate Research program at the SETI Institute in Astrobiology (URSA). The goal is to develop an ongoing academic-year science internship program at the SETI Institute, home to more than 60 scientists conducting astrobiology research. The SJSU students will be mentored by scientists at the SETI Institute to conduct a research project, in collaboration with the mentor. We anticipate that the students will present the research at a science conference, and publish the results if appropriate. Students will be recruited by SJSU science faculty in the physics/astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology and computer sciences departments as needed to match available research projects at the SETI Institute. 

Dr. Cynthia Phillips, PI, will manage the selection of available research projects each year, coordinate the selection of students in collaboration with the mentor scientists and the participating SJSU faculty, and lead the program throughout the year. Co-I Dr. Monika Kress will lead the student recruitment process, and will teach a course at San Jose State University for students enrolled in the URSA program. Currently, PI Phillips leads the SETI Institute's NSF- and NASA-funded Astrobiology Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, a 10-week summer science research program. The proposal envisions expanding the REU program to work with underserved students in our geographic region during the academic year. This is a three-year proposal.