LIGO Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF)


Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

June 18 - August 23, 2024
Caltech  ·  LIGO Hanford  ·  LIGO Livingston



All Fellows will need a computer; but because the size of the program, we cannot supply computers to students. If at all possible, plan to bring your own laptop.


If you will be working at Caltech: Please try, if at all possible, to arrive at Caltech a day or two before the program begins (June 18) and stay through the last day (August 23). On the last day, we have some student presentations, and a farewell BBQ/party.


Students in the Caltech LIGO Summer program receive a stipend. In 2023, the stipend was $7,100 for 10 weeks. The stipend is taxable. Travel expenses to and from your work site (Caltech, LHO or LLO) are covered by the program; as are expenses associated with a field trip to LHO or LLO during the summer.


Students in the Caltech LIGO Summer Program assigned to Caltech may live in Caltech campus housing during the program. Costs of Caltech campus housing will be covered by the program. You will be contacted by the Caltech Student-Faculty Programs (SFP) office, in early April, to make arrangements. Non-Caltech students should move into Caltech housing the day before the program begins unless other arrangements are made. More information is available at the Caltech Housing website. Housing at LIGO's Hanford and Livingston sites will also be provided for students based at these locations. Also, arrangements will be made for daily transportation to and from the sites.


Typical costs of transportation to and from Caltech/Hanford/Livingston at the beginning and end of the program can probably be provided in full for all students; special considerations or non-typical costs must be negotiated in advance; it may not be possible for the program to cover them.

All travel will be coordinated by the LIGO Travel Coordinator. Fellows should plan to arrive on site one day before the program start date.

The program covers:

  • a simple roundtrip domestic flight from your home to the main airport near the LIGO site (LAX, Pasco, or New Orleans) for the program dates. Exception: International flights will only be coordinated for participants who reside outside the United States and only after a US visa is obtained. Note: For international flights, air travel must be booked on a US carrier per the Fly America Act.
    • Participants combining personal travel with the SURF program will be responsible for additional flight costs. Again, only a roundtrip flight to/from your home to the LIGO site will be booked.
  • Housing for the duration of the program.
  • A stipend to be paid via direct deposit on the first day of the program.

Participants will pay and get reimbursed at the end of the program for:

  • Ground transportation from the airport to the LIGO site
  • One checked bag
  • Visa costs

Please notify the LIGO Travel Coordinator in advance if you have:

  • special accommodation needs.
  • will be traveling with a service animal (this requires extra paperwork with the airlines, housing, etc.).
  • any allergies or severe dietary limitations.

Site-specific information

Students in the Caltech LIGO Summer Program reside either at Caltech or one of the LIGO sites in Washington or Louisiana. Specify your preference(s) on the application.