Physics and Astronomy Research at Caltech

The Caltech Physics and Astronomy departments invite students to participate in ground-breaking research.

LIGO Rouse Fellows (2017)

Research opportunities in physics include the following topics: Condensed Matter Physics, Cosmology, Experimental Atomic/Molecular/Optical Physics, Experimental Elementary Particle Physics, Gravitational-wave Astronomy, Gravitational Wave Science with LIGO, Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, Nuclear Physics, Observational Astrophysics, Physical Biology, Quantum Optics and Information, Theoretical Astrophysics, Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics.

Astronomy and astrophysics are synonymous at Caltech. Caltech scientists and students are involved in many frontier areas of research, and have been known to open new ones. Research techniques include observations, theory, numerical simulation, advanced data analysis, laboratory astrophysics, and detector development. Projects and groups often bridge these areas of inquiry.

Topics of current research interest in astronomy/astrophysics include: observational cosmology and the nature of dark matter and dark energy; studies of the cosmic microwave background; galaxy formation and evolution; quasars and other active galactic nuclei and radio sources; studies of the dynamics and composition of galaxies and clusters; physics and evolution of the intergalactic medium; interstellar matter; local star and planet formation; extrasolar planetary systems; the structure of the galaxy; globular clusters; stellar abundances; supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and other types of cosmic explosions and transient phenomena; neutron stars and black holes; accretion disks; digital sky surveys and astroinformatics; numerical general relativity; gravitational wave astronomy and many others.

Program details

What is it?

LIGO summer students (2017)

The selected students will be part of Caltech's WAVE Fellows program. Caltech WAVE aims to foster diversity by increasing the participation of underrepresented students in science and engineering Ph.D. programs and making Caltech's programs more visible and accessible to students not traditionally exposed to Caltech.

Fellows will carry out the work over a 10-week period during the summer and submit two interim reports, a research abstract, and final paper. At the conclusion of the program, students give an oral or poster presentation at one of several WAVE Seminar Days, symposia modeled on a professional technical meeting.

For summer 2021, selected students received a research stipend of $6,620 for 10 weeks, plus a housing supplement of $2,000 and travel to and from Caltech. Summer 2022 is expected to be similar.


To enrich the research experience, the students are invited to attend the following:

  • Weekly seminars by Caltech faculty & JPL scientists and engineers
  • An academic and professional development series on developing a research career, graduate school admissions, and other topics of interest to future researchers
  • Various social and cultural activities
  • Weekly small student-faculty dinners
  • Special field trips

Who should apply?

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the beginning of the program. They must be enrolled in one of the CAMPARE participating institutions at the time of their application. Participants should not have graduated from their 4-year institution before the beginning of the summer internship. Community college students in the process of transferring to a 4-year institution are eligible to apply. Citizens, permanent residents, and AB540/DACA students are eligible to apply.

All applicants must have completed a minimum of one full year of college-level physics by the start of the program.

When and how to apply?

Applications are due February 1, 2022. To apply to the program, follow the Application Instructions. In addition, you must ask two faculty members (or others familiar with your academic or work background) to submit letters of reference.

If an applicant is interested in the LIGO REU program (gravitational wave science), you are encouraged to also apply to that program directly by January 7, 2022 at .

Indicate their names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses in your on-line application where appropriate. It is your responsibility to confirm that these letters have been sent and failure to obtain these two letters will render your application incomplete and lead to its rejection without review.

The research program runs Monday, June 13 to Friday, August 19, 2022 (10 weeks).

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants DUE-1741863, AST-1636646, and AST-1836019.