Intern at BSRC

Berkeley SETI Research Center Summer Research Internships

June 5 – August 11, 2017

Current sophomore, junior, and senior undergraduates are invited to apply for research internship positions at Berkeley SETI Research Center. BSRC is a world-leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence – the quest for a scientific answer to one of humanity’s oldest questions: Are we alone in the Universe? Housed in the Astronomy Department at the University of California, Berkeley, the team at BSRC leads the science program for the $100-million Breakthrough Listen project. Our scientists and engineers are pioneers in the development of software, instrumentation, and science strategy for the search for intelligent life on other worlds. We have access to substantial amounts of time on the planet’s largest telescopes, connections to leading players in industry, and we’re based in one of the world’s premiere astronomy research institutions. We’re also psyched that we get to wake up each day and hunt for aliens.

Following on from a successful pilot program in the summer of 2016, BSRC seeks undergraduate research interns to work at the cutting edge of the search. Previous interns have written software to monitor the status of the telescopes we use, algorithms to search vast quantities of data for interesting signals, visualizations of our target databases, and much more. If you are motivated, work well as a member of a team, and can take initiative and responsibility for your own work, you’ll fit in well in our group. In fact, our Director Dr. Andrew Siemion started his own research career as a UC Berkeley undergraduate!

The majority of our projects make heavy use of modern programming languages and tools. While we don’t expect applicants to be experts in all of these areas, familiarity and experience with one or more of Python / Jupyter, version control (e.g. git / github), database software (e.g. MySQL), visualization tools (e.g. Bokeh, D3, etc.), GPU programming, visualization, interface design, machine-learning environments, cloud computing, Unix / Linux scripting, and / or public outreach will make for a strong application. Prior astronomy research experience is not a prerequisite, although if you have knowledge or experience of positional astronomy, observational astronomy, radio astronomy, signal processing, and / or data reduction we would like to hear about that in your application.

You will be required to be resident within commute distance of the UC Berkeley campus for the duration of the program. By applying, you commit to being available for at least 20 hours (and up to 40 hours) of work per week (June 5 – August 11, 2017). You’ll be expected to work closely with other interns, to consult with our researchers as necessary, and to attend twice-weekly meetings. You’ll be expected to keep notes on your progress, and check your code in frequently to github. A stipend of $15 / hour is provided. The program is open to students currently enrolled at degree-granting institutions in the United States (including non-citizens legally present in the US for study purposes). Women, underrepresented minorities, transfer students, and others traditionally underrepresented in science are strongly encouraged to apply.

Here’s what you’ll need to apply:

  • A recent transcript (unofficial is fine)
  • A CV
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member, researcher, or other academic mentor (please ask this person to email this to bsrc@berkeley.edu ahead of the February 10, 2017 deadline)
  • A cover letter, which should include details of
    • Your interest in the program / science area
    • Your programming experience (including projects worked on)
    • Any prior research experience
    • Any other relevant information

To apply:

  • STEP ONE: fill in and submit the form at http://bit.do/bsrc_summer_2017
  • STEP TWO: email your recent transcript, CV, and cover letter to bsrc@berkeley.edu with the subject “BSRC Intern Application” to arrive no later February 10, 2017.
  • STEP THREE: ensure your academic referee sends their letter of recommendation to bsrc@berkeley.edu by February 10.

For more information about Berkeley SETI Research Center and the Breakthrough Listen project, please visit seti.berkeley.edu/listen