Plans for a Research and Study Abroad Program for U.S. Physics Students in Geneva

A proposal from a group of educators and USLHC collaboration leaders calls for the creation of  a Research and Study Abroad Program in Geneva, Switzerland for U.S. undergraduate physics students.  The proposal outlines the requirements for a semester long program to facilitate the participation of U.S. undergraduate students in research projects at the Large Hadron Collider.  The study, chaired by Professor Homer A. Neal, University of Michigan, was funded by the Lounsbery Foundation, the  Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the APS Division of Particle and Fields.

The research and study abroad initiative is premised on the need to expose the next generation of young American physicists to the cutting-edge research being conducted at CERN.  In addition, internationalization of research in physics and many other fields mandates that future U.S. researchers and scientists be experienced in working on cross-cultural teams with colleagues from around the globe.  The research component of the proposed program is modeled on the highly successful University of Michigan Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Summer Program that has placed highly qualified U.S. juniors and seniors on LHC research teams for two months during the summer for the past ten years. A Study Abroad Center would expand these opportunities to the full academic year, as well as increase the number of students who could participate. The concept has the full support of CERN management, and the suggestion of assistance from CERN and the University of Geneva in helping with its implementation. The report notes that similar needs occur in health areas, in such studies as pandemic predictions and analysis, and points out that the World Health Organization is headquartered just minutes from CERN, raising the possibility of the Center also serving students in health sciences in internships.

The proposed program would expand on the current REU program by bringing up to 60 students to Geneva in the fall and spring semesters.  Students would maintain their academic standing at their home institutes by taking courses in Geneva from LHC Fellows recruited from U.S. institutions, the University of Geneva and/or through distance learning facilities tied to their home campus.  Additional academic credit would be earned through their LHC research projects, as part of independent study courses recognized by most universities.

The next step in realizing the proposed initiative is to identify an organization or consortium of institutions that would design, implement and manage the program, including identifying and soliciting funds to support start-up and ongoing operations, recruiting staff in Geneva and the United States to select students, coordinate the research activities, and handle the day-to-day management.  Discussions are underway already with candidate entities who might assume such roles. DPF members are strongly encouraged to review the Research and Study Abroad proposal and contact Dr. Neal ( if you have questions or need additional information.  The goal is to select and fund the first group of 5-10 students in Geneva in September 2012 and to ramp to the final number over the ensuing four years.