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Northwestern University


IDEAS (Integrated Data Driven Discovery in Earth and Astrophysical Sciences) is a multi-faceted program designed for masters and PhD graduate students. All participants in the program have as a focus of their research one of three major research projects: Earthscope, aLIGO, or LSST. Graduate students will take specific coursework leading to a certificate (in development) in integrated data science; students will also participate in summer-schools focused on data visualization and computer programming, engage in science communication workshops, participate in the development of a citizen science project related to their research focus, earn an internship opportunity, and have the chance to participate in other data science-focused activities that will increase their professional connections and strengths necessary for successful careers in academia as well as the professional sector.
        IDEAS is funded by an NSF Research Traineeship Grant (1450006), awarded to CIERA, with PI Vicky Kalogera.
        For more information, contact program director Michelle Paulsen at

GK-12 "Reach for the Stars"

Prof. Vicky Kalogera leads a GK-12 program called Reach for the Stars: Computational Models for Teaching and Learning in Physics, Astronomy and Computer Science. Funded by the NSF with support from CIERA and Northwestern University, this NSF program places STEM graduate student fellows in K-12 science classrooms for the academic year with the goal of enriching their education and strengthening their development as researchers by advancing their communication and teaching skills.

RSG Research Communication

RSG Research Communication is both a graduate student workshop series and a speaker series that focuses on the need for improved science communication. In the workshop course, graduate students will learn key tactics for communicating their research to a broader audience. The speaker series brings in influential communicators and scientists in the Chicagoland area that raise awareness about the need for better science communication.
        RSG Research Communication is now run through The Graduate School at Northwestern, having originated in CIERA.
        For more information, contact program director Michelle Paulsen at

Research Experience for Undergraduates

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue an astrophysics-based interdisciplinary research project in collaboration with Northwestern CIERA faculty. The program includes computer programming and science communication workshops, research talks, educational excursions, and a $4500 stipend.
        REU is run through CIERA, and funded by the NSF. For more information, contact

Graduate Student Speaker Series

The Graduate Student Speaker Series brings together K-12 STEM educators and graduate researchers with the goal of improving science communication among graduate students and keeping educators up to date on Northwestern’s cutting-edge research. The series organizes visits by graduate students to local schools to give short presentations on their research to small groups of teachers.
        The Graduate Student Speaker Series runs through CIERA, and is funded by Northwestern University's Office for Research.
        For more information, contact program director Michelle Paulsen at

LSSTC Data Science Schools

The primary goals of the LSSTC Data Science Fellowship program are to teach the skills required for LSST (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) science that are not easily addressed by current astrophysics graduate programs..
        The the LSSTC Data Science Schools are run through CIERA. They are funded by the generous support of the LSST Corporation, with additional support from the           Data Science Seed Funding Program.

Computing Thinking in STEM

The Computational Thinking in STEM program develops secondary education programming that integrates computational thinking into existing curriculums. Via free lesson plans and assessments, CT-STEM incorporate computational analysis skills such as data analysis, modeling, simulation, and systems thinking into their free resources.
        CT-STEM is run by the Tidal Lab, the Office of STEM Educational Partnerships, the Alder Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, CIERA,
        and the Center for Connected Learning and Computer Based Modeling. For more information, contact

CT-STEM Teacher Training Workshops

A part of the CT-STEM program, these summer teacher training workshops provide 9-12th grade STEM teachers with the tools and resources necessary to emphasize computational thinking in their classrooms. The workshops allow for both discipline-specific training in CT lesson plans and general understanding of the role of computational skills in the classroom.
        CT-STEM is run by the Tidal Lab, the Office of STEM Educational Partnerships, the Alder Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, CIERA,
        and the Center for Connected Learning and Computer Based Modeling. For more information, contact Emily Ferren at

Gravity Spy

One major issue afflicting aLIGO’s ability to detect gravitational waves is poorly-modeled noise known as “glitches”. Gravity Spy will aid in the classification and characterization of glitches by combining human intuition and pattern recognition with the power of computers to process large amounts of data systematically.
         Gravity Spy is run through CIERA, and is funded by NSF.

K-12 Education