Undergraduate Opportunities


We are always adding new undergraduate opportunities at SSL! Please check this page frequently for updates.

Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP)

SSL is a proud participant in UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP). The Fall 2022 application process is now open. Please check out SSL’s URAP opportunities here. NOTE: The deadline to apply is August 29th, 9 AM PDT! 

Direct Hire Positions and/or Opportunities for Course Credit

Title: Planetary Science and Astrobiology – Detection of extraterrestrial biosignatures on icy moons and analysis of prebiotic trace organics in primitive carbonaceous meteorites. Description: The primary technique of this mission will be via Capillary Electrophoresis – Laser Induced Fluorescence (CE-LIF). The student will help build a brassbound Confocal Laser-Induced Fluorescence Detection system. This is an opportunity to experience (1) confocal optics design and optimization for high sensitivity, high resolution detection system; (2) photomultiplier detector signal acquisition, and (3) temperature control design and implementation. Skills Required: We need a student that is careful, practical, analytical, and a detail-oriented communicator. The student should also have interests in optics, electronics, signal acquisition. Other useful interests (optional stretch goals for longer assignments) include: (1) use of automated fast-switching high voltage control using Python system, Arduino microprocessor; (2) optimization of electrophoretic separation resolution and sensitivity; (3) signal data processing of Voltage-time trace, peak detection and quantitation; and (4) interest in wet-chemistry sample prep for fluorescent labeling of amino acids. Prior knowledge of chemistry or biology not required. Hours: ~10/week. Credit: course credit or hourly pay (TBD). Contact: Anna Butterworth at butterworth@berkeley.edu

Title: Detailed X-ray/optical/UV/NIR study of a candidate black hole ultracompact X-ray binary (BH UCXB). Description: The main work for this project is to study an intermediate brightness persistent X-ray binary by combining dedicated NuSTAR, XMM-Newton, and NICER data as well as an in-depth archival analysis. UCXBs are especially interesting for future lower frequency gravitational wave observations. Hours: ~6-9/week. Credit: course credit or hourly pay (TBD). Contact: John Tomsick at jtomsick@berkeley.edu

Title: Studies of Galactic NuSTAR serendipitous sources. Description: With major improvements in high-energy X-ray sensitivity, NuSTAR has been discovering large numbers of 3-24 keV sources, uncovering sources where extreme physics is occurring.  Our group is using the recently updated 80-month catalog to study the Galactic NuSTAR serendipitous sources. Hours: ~6-9/week. Credit: course credit or hourly pay (TBD). Contact: Ben Coughenour at coughenour@berkeley.edu

Title: Radial diffusion in the Earth’s radiation belts. Description: This work is focused on analyzing a large data set, to look for possible correlations with various indicators of “space weather”. This is a great opportunity to develop coding skills! Hours: ~6-9/week. Credit: hourly pay (TBD). Contact: Solene Lejosne at solene@berkeley.edu

Title: Software development for Grotifer, a new electric field instrument design. Description: Contribute to the development of a new design for an instrument to measure the electric fields naturally present in space. The objective will be to design a software that converts info on measured electric potentials into info on the electric fields. Skills Required: Strong mathematical background (3d geometry and change of reference frame) plus demonstrated interest in software design. Hours: 10/week. Credit: hourly pay (TBD). Contact: Solene Lejosne at solene@berkeley.edu

Title: Analysis of data from NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission. Description: The main focus of this project is to better understand the sources of “space weather” in the plasma environment near the Earth. Python experience is required. Contact: Brian Harding at bharding@ssl.berkeley.edu