Research Experience for Undergraduates Program
UC Davis Physics and Astronomy Department
June 13 to August 21, 2021


The UC Davis Physics REU has filled all spots for summer 2021.


The NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in the UC Davis Department of Physics and Astronomy will continue in summer 2021. As of December 2020, we expect COVID-19 vaccinations to be far enough along by June that it will be an in-person program. However, this is subject to change based on public health needs. We expect to know much more by the time we start making offers in late February.

Research projects will be at the heart of the 10-week program, whether it is in-person or virtual. These provide a view of physics very different from typical coursework. The in-person program strongly encourages interactions among participants, for example through field trips and shared housing. A virtual program will include a workshop introducing participants to Python, with emphasis on visualization and on interesting numerical problems. The latter will give even experienced Python programmers something worth thinking about.

The application for the 2021 program is now open, with a link on the Application Information page.

Program Summary

This assumes an in-person REU program.
  • Research Project- Students can choose from several of the physics subfields represented at UC Davis. Each student will have a personalized project, to conclude with a 15-minute presentation to the rest of the REU group.
  • Housing - The REU students will live together in housing provided by the program. For the past several years this has been in the Tri-Coops on campus, about half a mile from the physics building. We may switch to an off-campus location this summer, within easy bicycling distance of campus. Students who live with the main group receive an additional allowance for food, a portion of which is pooled for communal weekday dinners. Teams of two or three students take turns preparing these weekday dinners for the group. For other meals students can choose between making their own food or eating out.
  • Stipend - Students receive a $500/week stipend and some support towards travel to and from the program.
  • Student/Faculty Interaction - During the first week of the program, faculty will give introductory talks to put the students on a common ground so they can discuss their research. Throughout the summer, weekly lunchtime gatherings will be held, with a faculty mentor present, in which students will discuss their work. The lunch meetings also include GRE preparation, and at least one is entirely devoted to information on graduate school.
  • Social Programs - The program will include one local and four out-of-town field trips, the latter mostly on weekends. Trips may have a scientific emphasis, such as touring a national laboratory or industry facility, or may be primarily recreational. See the descriptions of our past REU programs for examples. These trips provide another opportunity to interact with faculty and graduate students in several subfields of physics.


  • Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to receive funding from our main grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. We can accommodate non-citizens if they do not need financial support, or if we are able to find other means to support them. This may depend on the specific research group. We will try to find ways to enable all selected students to attend. In particular, we have some funds that can be used for AB540 and DACA students.
  • Students must have finished high school by summer 2021 but may not have completed a B.S., B.A., or equivalent degree.
  • College students from two-year or four-year institutions may apply. All participants must be continuing their college education in Fall 2021.
  • Strong preference is given to students who have completed at least one year of calculus-based introductory physics.
  • Although there is some flexibility in dates, we normally ask that students be able to attend the program for at least 9 weeks, through August 13. If your college schedule requires you to leave before then, you may want to consider REU programs that better fit your availability.


  • All applications completed on or before February 14 will be reviewed before any offers are made. "Complete" means that at least two letters and a transcript have been received, in addition to the student's response to the application questions. Leave your recommenders adequate time to submit their letters! We begin making offers in late February, and initial offers for most projects will be made by March 1. We continue to review applications as they are completed, until all positions are filled. However, we strongly advise students to submit all materials by the end of February, when most of the positions are still open.
  • Once the program is full, usually in early April but occasionally several weeks earlier or later, we notify all students with complete applications. If you need to know the status of your application before then, feel free to ask us about it at any time.
  • Most offers are made in late February and early March, with a few extending to late March and early April. Each offer is for a specific project, and the faculty mentor will discuss the details with the applicant. Usually we give students a one-week deadline to accept or turn down our offers. The Physics REU site directors will utilize a common deadline of March 5, 2021, for students to accept or decline first round offers at domestic (non-international) sites. Sites may send offers to students at any time before this, but students will not be required to decide before March 5. Because of necessary organizational lead time, international REU sites may require earlier acceptance dates.