23 June 2021

Simons-NSBP Scholars Program Offers Summer Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Richard Fienberg

Richard Fienberg American Astronomical Society

Simons FoundationThe Simons-NSBP Scholars Program (SNSP), launched in 2020, provides undergraduate members of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) with summer research opportunities. The eight-week program, a partnership between the Simons Foundation and the NSBP, provides invaluable training for becoming a professional physicist.National Society of Black Physicists

Program Description

The SNSP has a number of components that are specifically designed to provide scholars with the best experience possible.

  • Research: SNSP scholars work on a wide range of projects that have included modeling gravitational waves in the early universe, developing sensors for measuring the cosmic microwave background, and searching for new exoplanets. Each of these projects is at the cutting edge of its field, and SNSP scholars have been able to make valuable contributions to the projects on which they have worked.
  • Speaker Series: There are a number of black physicists working on exciting projects in a variety of areas. Every week of the SNSP, the scholars hear from a new speaker about their work. The 2020 speaker series featured, among others, Derrick Pitts (Franklin Institute), Carol Scarlett (Florida A&M University), and Delilah Gates (Harvard University).
  • Professional Development: The SNSP has weekly programming to help scholars advance their careers. These workshops discuss topics ranging from graduate-school applications to writing documents in LaTex.
  • Social Events: Life isn’t all work! Every week scholars gather for events where they can put their work aside and focus on having fun.


The SNSP is open to undergraduate members of the National Society of Black Physicists. We especially encourage applications from (i) students entering the final year of undergraduate studies and/or (ii) students studying in non-graduate degree granting departments. If you aren’t yet a member of the NSBP, you should join before you apply. 

The 2021 SNSP is now underway. An open call for applications for the 2022 program will launch in Winter 2021/2022. Questions? Email Kasey Wagoner (Princeton University).

EHT Scholars Program

The SNSP is similar to the NSBP/SAO Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Scholars Program, which provides research opportunities for early career physicists from underrepresented backgrounds to engage in cutting-edge black hole research. This joint program of the NSBP and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory has hosted two pairs of scholars so far: Elon Price (Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge Program) and Paul Tola (State University of New York, New Paltz) in 2020, and Brandon Curd (Harvard University) and Marvin Q. Jones Jr. (Indiana University) in 2021. Price is now working on a PhD in physics at Auburn University; he and Jones are both AAS members.

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