LIGO Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF)


Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

June 15 - August 20, 2021
Caltech  ·  LIGO Hanford  ·  LIGO Livingston

Summer projects in:


Multimessenger astronomy
Theoretical astrophysics
General relativity

Experimental Physics

Optomechanical systems modeling
Lab projects in mechanical, laser, optical and electronic systems

Data Analysis

Machine learning
Signal processing
Data calibration


Undergraduate students in physics, astronomy and engineering are invited to participate in the development of gravitational-wave astronomy through the Caltech LIGO Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. This intensive summer program takes place each year at Caltech or one of the LIGO observatory sites, funded in part through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program of the National Science Foundation. Undergraduate students from all institutions (both U.S. and foreign) are invited to apply to the Caltech LIGO SURF program. Research awards include a summer stipend and some funding for travel to the research site as needed.

Summer 2021 Program

June 15 - August 20, 2021

Applications are accepted from October 16, 2020 - January 8, 2021. All applicants will be notified of their status by mid-March. We are unable to accept the vast majority of our well-qualified applicants, due to limited funding and mentor availability; we greatly appreciate your interest in our program, and wish the best for your careers in scientific research.



All continuing undergraduate students (i.e. who will be students next year) may apply. Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Different projects require different skills and background, and we typically have some projects that are suitable for students who have just completed the freshman year.

Selected applicants will be matched with potential mentors and projects in mid- to late- February. You will have an opportunity to discuss the project with the mentor(s), and you will then be asked to prepare a project proposal or respond to challenge questions. Final selection of summer research fellows will take place in late February or early March.

Two students performing an experiment

Image credit: Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab