Summer Scholars Program Planning

The goal of Summer Scholars program has traditionally been to give students their first REU-like summer research experience. However, expectations of the faculty who fund the students are often at odds with someone who has never completed an extended research project. This makes applicant decisions a bit difficult, as we’d like to prioritize people who need the experience, but have faculty who would be/think they would be happier with someone who already has it. Additionally, we’ve tried recently (2018 and 2019) to offer acceptances to people who seemed like they would excel, only to have them turn down the offer (2 people in 2018), or accept only to turn us down when they received a better offer (2 people in 2019). Moving forward, it’s unclear how to balance the level of experience in the applicant pool given the fact that GRAD-MAP needs a more secure source of funding and to get that, we need to show results (i.e. students being accepted to PhD programs). 

 

Aside from those politics, the Summer Scholars program is fairly straightforward to plan. The big things are to get the application open in time (which requires the funding sources and projects to be set) and secure on-campus housing through fraternity life in March (thanks to Robyn Smith for doing this first!). There are other duties that are listed below. See this document on mistakes that were made during the 2018 Summer Scholars Program. 

Questions that stumped me (Amy Steele) for the 2019 Program: 

  • Have you arranged for airfare for the GRAD MAP scholar coming from Barbados?  This person will need appropriate authorization from their home institution which holds their F-1 visa in order for us to put them on payroll.  

  • Do you expect to get a replacement for Ian Stringer or will there only be 3 this year?

  • Lastly, have you and Stuart Vogel which KFS accounts these students will be paid from? 


 

1 Application and Selection 

 

1.1 Application

The application needs to change to solicit more information from the students. Given how the application process went this past spring (2019), I’ve added the following questions to the application form: 

 

  • Are you authorized to work in the United States?

  • What will be your status in Summer 2020? (Ex. recent graduate, rising junior, etc.)

  • Have you applied, or do you plan on applying to other summer programs? This question will help us to determine how many students to accept on our wait list. 

  • Did you apply to the TREND REU?

 

1.2 Advisor Selection?

 

Advisors have historically been (Suvi Gezari, Alberto Bolatto, and Stuart Vogel). Why? They wrote grants that had GRAD-MAP written in to a broader impacts section and funding for Summer Scholars projects comes from those grants. This means that most of the projects for the Summer Scholars program have been in astronomy. Recently (2019), Jordan Goodman joined us as an advisor of a summer student (Thomas Coleman). Jordan had his own funding. Basically, in order to advise a summer project, a faculty member/research scientist has to have $7000: $5000 for salary and $2000 for housing. 

 

The front office needs the KFS account numbers that will be charged when each student is paid. 


 

2 International Students 

 

Given the fact that NSF funding tends to be for US citizens only, it can sometimes be tricky to pay international students with the grants that astro/physics faculty tend to have. This is the main reason that TREND only accepts US citizens. The department can get around it, though it’s still unclear to me what hocus pocus happens in the front office to make if fly. On our end, we have to make sure that the students get authorization from their university to be paid by UMD. More often than not, this authorization requires the I-20 form to be adjusted to include the Summer Scholars Program as a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) experience. Yes, this is a thing and as a citizen I’m privileged enough to have never heard of it before. On the UMD site, this is referred to as a transfer of SEVIS. What is SEVIS? “SEVIS is a web-based system for maintaining information on international nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in the United States.” - https://www.ice.gov/sevis

 

Each University/College should have an international student office and that office should issue the updated I-20 form. 

 

As soon as an international student accepts their offer for the Summer Scholars Program, you should have them begin this process. An example of an email that has been sent out is below: 

 

Hi International Student's Name,

 

There are a couple requirements for you to be paid here at UMD. International students from other U.S. universities can be employed here at UMD as summer interns, provided that they obtain approval from their home university's international office for curricular practical training (CPT) for the internship. This website for Howard is here: 

 

https://careerservices.howard.edu/students/international-students

 

and the form you need to fill out (I believe) is here: 

 

https://www.howard.edu/internationalservices/forms/CPT%20Application%20Packet.pdf

 

You need an official offer letter from the University of Maryland, and I've attached it below. Howard's international office should issue you a revised I-20 form showing that you have employment authorization, and then you need to apply for a social security number within 30 days prior to starting the internship. If you already have a social security number, then great! 

 

I know this is a lot of information, but please start by filling out the CPT form and sending it to Howard's international student office. I'll try my best to help you on this end. 

 

Thanks,

Amy

 

The packet for Howard is a nice example of a set of these forms. Not all universities have things so well organized. The question about authorization to work in the US should hopefully spur whoever is tasked with this job to send out all the necessary emails early, i.e. in late March, early April. 


 

3 Summer Activities 

 

3.1 Mini lectures from faculty 


 

3.2 Lunches 


 

3.3 Wind Tunnel: 

 

https://windtunnel.umd.edu/wind-tunnel-tour-inquiry

Purpose of Trip Message: 

Hello! The purpose of this tour would be to display UMD's Wind Tunnel to GRAD-MAP Summer Scholars students and TREND REU students. GRAD-MAP, or Graduate Resources Advancing Diversity with Maryland Astronomy and Physics, is a graduate student led and run diversity initiative. We have a 10 week REU-like program for a small number of undergraduate students who will complete research projects with faculty. TREND, or Training and Research Experience in Non-linear Dynamics, is an NSF-funded REU for undergraduates hosted by the physics department. We were able to visit the Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel last summer and it was a highlight for the students. I personally loved it! We hope to visit again! We requesting July 6, but have a relatively flexible schedule in July 2019. Thank you very much for your consideration!  -- Amy Steele, GRAD-MAP Team Lead


 

3.4 Trips to Labs

 

4 Final Research Fair

Fall Recruitment

Winter Workshop

Summer Scholars

UMD Box/Drive

Background image: the 25th Anniversary Hubble Image of star-forming region Westerlund 2credits NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team

 

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GRAD-MAP is generously funded by the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, & Natural Sciences and the Departments of Astronomy and Physics, and the NSF Career, PIRE (Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen), and AAG programs.