This award supports a new Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The first observations of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) have opened up the dawn of the gravitational wave astronomy age. Soon, we will see the birth of multimessenger astronomy, as gravitational wave and electromagnetic observations are combined with theoretical models to give us new insights into astrophysical phenomena that were previously unavailable to science. A key step in moving this project forward will be the training of students that will form the next generation of scientific leaders. This REU site, dedicated to the study of multimessenger astrophysics, will help groom the next generation of scientists in the many and diverse skills that will allow them to pursue careers in this growing field as well as many others.
Students in the REU program will learn about and perform research on topics spanning gravitational wave detection and data analysis, observational astronomy and astrophysics, visualization of scientific data, and theoretical and numerical modeling. Working in pairs, each supervised by a committed research mentor, students will spend ten weeks performing research and participating in a wide array of professional and scientific enrichment activities that include developing presentation skills, acquiring familiarity with academic literature, and learning to access and use workstations and supercomputers to perform numerical simulations. In addition, the site will have a particular focus on deaf and hard of hearing students, and will offer all of the REU students the chance to learn American Sign Language through a specialized "bootcamp", building community between hearing and deaf students in the program.