International Research Experiences for Undergraduates


The main goal of this NSF funded program is to take 6 undergraduates, from the upstate New York area, to Taiwan for 6 weeks every summer for the next 3 years (a different set of students each time), and have them collaborate with leading Astronomers and students from the Graduate Institute of Astronomy (here) at the National Central University, Taiwan (here). In particular these students will be working on cutting edge problems in the extra-galactic distance scale and stellar pulsation. A secondary goal is to give students a significant cultural experience by living/working in a very different environment to upstate New York.

Results from summer 2013 are given here.

Zachary Schrecengost: "Astrophysics Applications of Principal Component Analysis" is here.

Thorin Kane "Exlploring the Reliability of the Pan-Starrs1 Proper Motions as Compared to the PPMXL Data Set" is here.

Kunal Datta: "The Mid-Infarred Light Curve Structure of LMC Cepheids" is here.

David ONeill: "PLUTO: Applications to FERMI Bubble Modeling" is here.

Anthony Smith and Nicholas Powers: "Examining the Relationship Between Period vs. Diamter of Asteroids" is here.

Results from summer 2012 are given here.

Daniel Wysocki: "Light Curve Template for First-Overtone Cepheid Variable Stars" is here.

Bin Lin: "Interpreting Gravitational Lensing Data using Relativistic Modified Newtonian Dynamics" is here.

Kate Hughes: "Investigating the Substructure of the Milky Way Through the Comparison of RAVE data to the Besancon Model" is here.

Kirby Valentin: "Hayabusa Project" is here.

Jeff Vankerkhove: "An Analysis of the Ion Tail of C/2004 Q2 (Machholz)" is here.

Ruka Murugan: "Principal Component Analysis of Variable Star Light Curves" is here.

Results from the summer 2011 are given here.

Scott Lucchini: Ultra Long Period Cepheids: An Intermediate Stage Between Classical Cepheids and Long Period Variables?" is here.

Danielle Citro: "Period Luminosity Relations for Small Magellanic Cloud Cepheids based on AKARI Archival Data" is here.

Adam Lanman: "Random Walk Tests of the linearity/nonlinearity of PC/PL/PW Cepheid Relations" is here.

Joyce Wu and Dilyana Mihalova: Period-Color and Amplitude-Color Relations in OGLE III RR Lyraes" is here.

Dilyana Mihalova and Joyce Wu: "Identification of Uncharted Star Clusters" is here.

Julia Russ: "The Galactic Oosterhoff Dichotomy in Terms of Period-Color Relations at Max/Min Light" is here.

Students will also be able to develop an extensive set of professional contacts which will be of use in their future careers.

Application procedures are given at the bottom of this page.


There is a 3 week component at SUNY Oswego, between May 23 - June 10, introducing students to Mandarin and Taiwanese culture taught by Prof. Jean Hsiao of SUNY Oswego's Modern Languages department. The 6 week Taiwan component will probably be between June 25-August 8, 2011, 2012, 2013. Some flexibility around these dates may be required.

What is provided?

Students air fare, accommodation for 6 weeks, health insurance, plus a stipend of roughly $2500 are provided by the NSF. Though the working language will be English, students will be expected to take a short course in Mandarin/Taiwanese culture and history at SUNY Oswego prior to the trip to enhance their overall educational experience. This course plus the 6 week research component in Taiwan is available as a 3 unit credit course through SUNY Oswego's Office of International Education Programs (OIEP).

What do you provide?

You need to provide a valid passport and visa. If you do not have a passport and are interested in going you should apply for one IMMEDIATELY. Suitably qualified students from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

What experience do you need?

We welcome applications from Math/Computer Science/Engineering/Physics/Astronomy majors. You do need to have strong computer/programming skills and should have tried some programming in FORTRAN/C/C++/Java.

The Project

Students will work closely with Dr. Shashi Kanbur of SUNY Oswego and Dr. Chow Choong Ngeow of the GRI NCU on cutting edge problems related to the extra-galactic distance scale and stellar pulsation. The projects vary from data reduction, theoretical modeling and application of new statistical procedures to astronomical data.

Students will be based at GRI NCU though they will spend a few days at Lulin Observatory. Students may also be able to work on other projects with other members of the NCU GRI.

There will be wonderful opportunities to mix socially with Taiwanese undergraduates/graduates and experience a wide range of local cultural activites.

Taiwan and Jhongli

Students will be based in Jhongli, very close to Taipei, Taiwan. Pictures of Jhongli are here and here.

The National Central University, Taiwan

The National Central University (NCU), Taiwan dates back to 1902 when the Governor-General Chang-tuang established Liangjiang Normal School in the Chinese city of Nanjing. NCU was properley established in 1962 and moved to its current location in Jhongli in 1968. It has developed into one of the main research driven universities in the region. It has excellent research facilities and programs in Astrophysics, Geophysics, Space Sciences, Geology, Hydrological Sciences and Statistics. NCU also operates Taiwan's largest professional astronomical observatory, Lulin Observatory as well as a Multi-Satellite Receiving station and a micro-optoelectronics laboratory. Students in this program will be based in the Graduate Institute of Astronomy (GRI). This department consists of 9 full time and 4 part time faculty members, 4 post-dooctoral fellows, 19 full time professional staff supporting various research projects, 22 doctoral and 27 masters students. Students will have the opportunity to interact with many of these staff and students. A major resource is Lulin Observatory, located at Mt. Lulin, a 2862m peak in Yu-Shan National Park. Existing telescopes include a 1m (LOT), 4 sets of 0.5m (TAOS Project), a 0.4m Lulin Sky Survey Telescope (LSST). Ongoing projects include the Taiwan-America Occulationa Survey (TAOS), the Taiwanese supernova survey project, Low mass X-ray binaries, gamma ray bursts and optical afterglows and the Pan-STARRS project. Topics of research include Star Formation, General Relativity, Observational Astronomy, Solar System Astronomy, Planetary Atmospheres, Robotic Telescopes, Variable Stars and the distance scale, Spectrsocopy. This will be a very stimulating atmosphere for upstate NY undergraduates and will help to achieve the twin goals of scientific productivity in a foreign setting.

How do you apply?

For more information, email shashi.kanbur(at) A flyer is here. Review of applications will begin on February 1 and continue until all positions are filled. Electronic applications can be sent to shashi.kanbur(at) Applications consist of a CV, undergraduate grade transcript, two reference letters, and a short statement outlining how you could contribute to the project and what you expect to gain from the overall experience to

Dr. Shashi Kanbur

Department of Physics

SUNY Oswego

Oswego, NY 13126