Research Experience for Undergraduates and Teachers 

Wayne State REU/RET History - A success story for our students and teachers

Wayne State
WSU Pipeline
College of Sciences
Physics Department

The Wayne State University REU/RET program in Particle physics started in the Summer of 1998 as a supplement to the Cornell REU program and was funded as supplement of the Bonvicini/Cinabro NSF grant (NSF-PHY-9804607). The program became officially an NSF REU program in 1999 (NSF-PHY-9820306, PI Prof. G. Bonvicini and Co-PI Prof. David A. Cinabro), and has been in operation ever since.  The Wayne State REU Site was expanded in 2003 to include Faculty from the Nuclear Physics group (CO-PIs Profs. R. Bellwied, C. Pruneau, S. Gavin), and once more in 2004 to include the Particle Physics theory group led by Prof. A. Petrov. The program scope was diversified to include projects at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Fermi National Laboratory. Some participants had their REU/RET experience at Wayne State where they worked with members of the Wayne Relativistic Heavy Ion group, or the nuclear and particle physics theory groups.

In 2007, G. Bonvicini stepped down as PI to focus on other interests. Profs. Claude Pruneau, and Sean Gavin took over the leadership of the program respectively as PI and CO-PI of the program (NSF-PHY-0649150). Since 2008 the program is directed by Prof. Alexey Petrov (Program Director/PI) and Prof. David Cinabro (co-PI).

The participant names, emails, and academic year at the time of their REU experience are listed on our web site. The site also presents a longer narrative detailing each student’s educational and professional status. These data provide ample evidence for the success of the students enrolled in our program.

We evaluate the performance of our program based on outreach impact, student’s satisfaction, direction, support, participation in other REU programs, and declarations of interest.

  • Outreach Impact: The fact that roughly 30% of these REU site participants were women, 50% were from ethnic minorities, and 75% were “first-generation” students attest to the great success of this REU site.  
  • Student's satisfaction: Our assessment of student’s satisfaction is in part based on an exit questionnaire filled by participants at the end of their summer experience, and in part through conversation we have had with them. The text of the questionnaire and excerpts from students’ answers are available at our web site. In general, the students express from good to great satisfaction with their experience.  Many have expressed the wish to return for a second summer. Additionally, many told their friends about the program and help recruit participants in following years.
  • Student direction: Many of the students enrolled in our REU program have graduated as of September 2007. Six have enrolled in and are pursuing a PhD programs: four at our Department (two in experimental particle physics, one in experimental nuclear physics, and one in nuclear theory), one at Michigan State University (MSU) in nuclear theory, one in Electrical Engineering at University of Michigan (UM). A number of students have completed, or are working on Master’s degrees: one completed a Master in Material Sciences at UM, one completed a Masters in Electrical Engineering at University of Texas (while working as process Engineer at Motorolla Inc). Two students have begun a medical school program.   Many of our REU students are now employed. Few of the RET teachers have enrolled in graduate studies, one completed a Master in Education, another is now a full time student enrolled in the PhD program at our Department.  
  • Student support and Follow-up to REU: Many students have expressed the desire to continue their project or get more involved in research after the REU experience. We, and other Faculty of our Department, provide financial support (through various sources) for research to many students AFTER their REU experience, or have directed them towards other REU programs at other institutions. From the 2007 group, D. Bohler is now enrolled at our Department in a pre-graduate program (he holds a BS but is required to complete few courses before being admissible to our Department’s PhD program) and supported in part by the PI of this proposal. C. Hammill will be working with (and supported by) the PI, this fall, on a STAR experiment analysis. We also support through discussions, orientations, and letter of reference their application to graduate schools at this and other Universities.  More than 50% of our REU participants plan or have engaged in graduate programs.
  • Student participation in other REUs or equivalent training program: Many students have expressed the desire to return to our REU program. Our policy is usually to redirect these students towards other REU and summer research programs in order to give opportunities to as many students as possible to enroll in our REU program. While we have taken a few returning students, we have in most cases helped students to find other REU programs or summer research opportunities at our Department (based on research grants) and elsewhere.
  • Student declaration of interest: Of the students enrolled in the program over the last three years, ten expressed interest in a PhD in physics, one for a PhD in Mathematics, one for a PhD in chemistry. Four intend(ed) to obtain a Masters in Engineering or Computer Science and two a Masters in physics. These numbers are quite remarkable, since few of these students originally had an interest in seeking a PhD degree, and many had little connection to science.
  • Quality of reports: The students and teachers final reports are posted on our REU/RET web site [8]. Of these works, a few (e.g. Luckwald and Morgan in 1998, Detgen and Korbiak in 1999, and Korbiak in 2000, Sehdev 2001, Szeliga, 2004, in Willard 2007) are of graduate student quality. Some of the student reports have been published essentially “as is” (e.g. Luckwald, Detgen and Korbiak, all three supervised by WSU faculty), integrated into published papers (e.g., Szeliga, in 2004), or at the very least instrumental in the completion of published works (e.g. Strother, Sehdev, Batra, in 2003, Bohler, Coles, Hall, Willard, in 2007). Many of the student technical works did not get published but are now part of the hardware or software infrastructure of the research teams they worked with (e.g. Nassouri, Fullerton, 2004, Hammill, 2007). Some of these students presented their work at conferences (e.g. Korbiak at April 2000 APS meeting in Huntington Beach, CA). Also of interest is the excellent website produced by five of the teachers in Summer 2000. We find these are remarkable achievements for students (teachers) who knew little physics, and computing technologies at the beginning of their REU (RET) experience. The 2007 teachers carried also excellent work. M. Doppke’s project was to explore the feasibility of establishing remote controlled, computer-program driven amateur telescopes to send CCD images to a central computer for analysis and archiving. While the project encountered technical and practical hurdles, he established this could be done with further work.  C. Couvreur worked with the CHESS capillary optics group (see on the development of its capability to draw hollow glass tubing into precision elliptically-tapered single-bounce x-ray optics that make most of the micro-beam experiments possible at CHESS beam lines. She helped improve their computerized instrument for glass drawing and its associated metrology. L. Ezenabo worked with the ALICE EMcal group of Cormier at WSU on the construction and test of a calorimeter prototype to be tested later this fall at CERN.
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Last modified: September 26, 2007