Research Spotlight
This is a short highlight of members of SPS and their research. If you have any questions about their research, or how to get involved with research in general, feel free to ask them! If you'd like to be part of the Research Spotlight please talk to Levi Walls or Neil Schroeder.

Levi Walls, UROP
My UROP project was just a small part of the National Science Foundations most-fundedexperiment: the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory—designed to directly detect gravitational waves. Because Seismic Noise currently muddles any incoming gravitational wave signal, I ran simulations designed to produce power spectra of a recovered seismic wave injection. While the spectra give a good overview of the behavior of the power, with regard to the recovery, a suitable analysis was needed. It was noticed in past simulations that there are regions in the recovered power spectra with negative poweran unwanted effect. Thus, I set out to minimize the phenomenon as I varied the injection frequency and the number of seismometers in an array.

The upcoming deadline for proposals regarding Spring 2016 UROP projects is : 11:59 p.m. October 5, 2015.
Many students begin research starting with a UROP or Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program; your work is rewarded as a scholarship amounting up to $1400 with up to $300 in expense money. This program allows students to work with a professor on a specific project to be designed by the students themselves, or, more commonly, designed by the professor and student together. In the field of Infrared Astronomy, an excellent place to do research even if you don't intend to hold a job in it, one of the most approachable professors is Prof. Robert Gehrz; he has worked successsfully with many students in the past.
A UROP project consists of three main components: the proposal, the project itself, and some sort of presentation or publication. If you would like any more information please talk to Levi Walls or visit

All of the deadlines for the URS are the same as for the UROP, that being said, the deadline for students to submit an application for Spring 2016 research is: 11:59 p.m. October 5, 2015.
Undergraduate Research Scholarships (URS) are awarded to incoming University freshman. Generally, a student's ability to participate in a URS project will show up on your financial aid package; like the UROP, the scholarship can amount to upwards of $1,400 with $300 in expense money. The process for obtaining and completing a URS is nearly the same as a UROP. One of the more popular professors students work with is Prof. Greven whom is focused on crystal growth and its application to condensed matter physics. For scope, currently all of the undergraduate students working with Prof. Greven are members of SPS!
Like a UROP, URS projects consist of three main components: the application, the project itself, and some sort of presentation or publicaiton. If you would like any more information please feel free to visit the "Everything URS" page at:

Unlike the other two options, the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) is not a University of Minnesota funded program. Participating in an REU allows students to travel to other universities or institutions with projects funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation): we've even had SPS members travel to places like the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico! Regarding requirements: applications and project details vary from university to university, department to department. Most sponsored REU's are completed in the summer months, and benefits of completing an REU include a stipend (most times), a great opportunity to boost your resume, and connections for future work.
Some more details can be found at, and the students can search for REU programs and universities that interest them by clicking on the "Search for an REU site" on the left of this webpage. It should be noted that application materials and specifics can be found at a specific REU site, NOT the NSF site.

Directed Research
Basically, Directed Research is research done with a professor for academic credit—most commonly between 1-5 credits; students might have seen the option to sign up for Directed Research when registering for classes. Among the Astrophysics-offered classes, Ast 2990 is the course designated for Directed Research. The requirements include: 1 year of Calculus, and completion of lower-division physics courses. However, among the Physics-offered courses, Phys 3994, Phys 4994, and Phys 5994 are designated for Directed Research. Unlike the Astrophysics Directed Research, the only requirements for Directed Research in Physics is instructor consent at the beginning of registration. It should be noted that Phys 5994 has an additional requirement, namely that the student must be a junior, senior, or graduate student.


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There are five publically available practice GRE tests:

Solutions to the first four tests can be found at:

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