SETI Forward 2019 Application

The SETI Institute has recently created the SETI FORWARD Program, supported by a modest endowed fund.  The mission of SETI FORWARD is to encourage the next generation of SETI scientists - undergraduate students. SETI FORWARD seeks to provide an incentive to pursue this field of study, along with mechanism for connecting promising students with SETI researchers, all who share a passion for the fundamental question - Are We Alone in the Universe? The intent is to establish a long-term succession plan focused on undergraduate students with the specific aim of bringing new people into the field of SETI research and establishing SETI ambassadors to promote SETI to a new generation.

The SETI FORWARD Fund is an endowed fund created by Lew Levy,  and other donors including Dane Glasgow, Jill Tarter, Andy Fraknoi and many more.  The SETI FORWARD Fund will support undergraduate student research activities.  Each summer, undergraduate students complete internships alongside SETI research scientists – currently at both the SETI Institute and the Berkeley SETI Research Center.  Too few of these students pursue science careers in SETI research.  SETI FORWARD seeks to show undergraduates these promising pathways, by providing opportunities that bridge the gap between these SETI internships and careers in SETI science and research. 

For the purpose of the SETI FORWARD Award, “SETI Research” is defined as, 1) the search for communications, traces or other forms of evidence of the presence of intelligent civilization, and 2) the study of the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe beyond earth’s biosphere.  Support provided can be used for purposes including:

  • Assist undergraduate students with travel stipends to facilitate collaboration on SETI research at telescopes, universities, or other research facilities.
  • Fund undergraduate student travel expenses associated with presentation(s) of SETI research at scientific meetings, conferences, or similar.
  • Provide undergraduate student bursaries to organizations engaged in SETI research to help them obtain and nurture new talent in the field.

Scientific meetings/conferences are great places to showcase your SETI internship work to potential employers and graduate programs, to network, and to get a broader view of the field of study.  Since the program is new in 2019, income from the endowed fund has not yet been generated, but the SETI Institute has set aside some limited funding this year to sponsor meeting travel (meeting registration, airfare, shared hotel room, and food) for one intern to present their work (usually as a poster, but also potentially as a talk).

Meetings that may be of interest include:

  1. Neural Information Processing Systems, Vancouver, Canada - December 8 - 14, 2019
  2. American Astronomical Society, Honolulu, HI - January 4 - 8, 2020
  3. SPEI AR/VR/MR  Conference and Exhibitions February 2 – 4, 2020 , San Francisco, CA.
  4. American Astronomical Society, Moana Terrace WI, - May 30 – June 4, 2020.
  5. North American Radio Science Meeting, Montreal, Canada, July 4 – 11, 2020…
  6. Research Experience for Undergraduates Symposium (REUS), Alexandria VA, October 27-28, 2019
  7. Other topical meetings in astronomy, CS, or related fields – many astronomy meetings are listed at

Applications received by Friday August 30 will receive full consideration. One applicant will be selected to receive this inaugural 2019 SETI FORWARD Award.  The recipient will be featured prominently in SETI Institute media, website, and communication.  The recipient will be invited to be honored at the annual SETI Institute Drake Awards Event on May 14, 2020. 

If you are interested in presenting your work at a meeting, please seek the support of your mentor, and assuming they are supportive, please respond to the questions below (via email to