Research Experience for Undergraduates

Spend a summer learning about cutting-edge imaging science at one of the newest NSF Science and Technology Centers in the United States. Your efforts will help push the limits of real-time functional imaging by advancing and combining different imaging modalities including visible microscopy, X-ray, nano-probe, and electron microscopy. STROBE brings together scientists and students from the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of California at Berkeley, Fort Lewis College, Florida International University, and the University of California at Irvine. Several national laboratories, industries, and international institutions are also partnering with STROBE.

Deadline for application: February 8, 2019. STROBE Undergraduate Researchers will be announced in March 2019.

Please fill out the STROBE Undergraduate Application Form (which will be linked to the form while the application is open) and attach pdf documents of the following:

  1. One page statement that includes up to three labs you would like to work with (see list of labs below), an explanation of why you would like to work with this lab, and a little bit about yourself, your motivations, and your interest in STROBE and imaging science.
  2. Resume/CV that includes courses taken and in progress and GPA.
  3. Letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor.
  4. Unofficial transcript

All programs include $4,000-5,000 stipend and additional funding may be available for housing/travel for those who need it.
Program dates vary but are typically 8-10 weeks, include research in a supervised lab experience, supporting group and social activities, and academic, science, and career development opportunities.
Undergraduates will present their summer findings at the STROBE Summer Undergraduate Research Scholar Symposium in August 2019.

Overall questions can be directed to STROBE's Associate Director of Education, Dr. Ellen Keister at


STROBE Labs Participating in the SURS Program in 2019:

University of California - Los Angeles

Pietro Musumeci
Research combines the progress in ultrafast laser technology and our improved understanding of photocathode physics and beam dynamics. Our goal is to develop the first time-resolved electron microscope capable of acquiring single shot images with picosecond temporal resolution and nanometer spatial resolution.
Suggested Skills: Upper Division E&M and/or Classical Mechanics preferred. The project will be mostly theory/computation, as it will be related to the design of electron optics for a variable magnification microscope, but there could be practical aspects of it (for example measuring magnets). Will mostly use commercial software that there is prior knowledge of programming needed. Some knowledge of Matlab to interpret and postprocess data might be useful.

John Miao
Research in the Miao lab lies at the interface of physics, nanoscience, and biology. Our lab has played a major role in pioneering a three-dimensional imaging approach based upon the principle of using coherent diffraction in combination with a method of direct phase recovery called oversampling. Our lab aims to tackle major scientific challenges by improving imaging technology and probing physical properties of materials at the single-atom level using optical lasers, coherent X-rays, and electrons
Suggested Skills: Some knowledge of Python and/or Matlab is preferred.

Jose Rodriguez
Jose Rodriguez's students in the lab work on visualizing the shapes of molecules with atomic resolution. This tells us about the ways in which atoms are arranged and interact within the molecules to give them a specific shape and function. These functions include the formation of ice and clouds, all of the biology that occurs in living systems including the events that cause disease. We use electron microscopes to inspect molecules and use computing to analyze the results with atomic detail. 

Hong Zhou
Students in Hong Zhou's lab work on atomic modeling of protein and nucleic acid complexes. Please visit Dr. Zhou's CNSI website, microbiology website, and his group website for more information about the research in this lab.

University of California - Berkeley

Roger Falcone Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 

Our work takes place at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Advanced Light Source (ALS) synchrotron facility. At the ALS students will have the chance to work at the new facility for Coherent X-ray Microscopy (COSMIC). Students with have the opportunity to develop existing computing skills, learn about advanced imaging systems and explore the future of x-ray imaging science. Students will also be welcomed into the STROBE community on UC Berkeley campus where they can meet with other imaging scientists.

Suggested Skills: any experience with programming (Python, matlab or C/C++), image manipulation or low power lasers.

Laura Waller

The summer undergraduate will help with a project in reconstructing 3D images of invisible objects by quantitative phase imaging with X-rays, in collaboration with the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The student will work closely with one graduate student to write Python code for image processing and help with data collection for a project in 3D imaging of X-ray phase objects. Some background in optics, image processing (Fourier transforms) and Python will be helpful.

Andrew Minor

Andrew Minor’s research interests lie at the intersection of advanced electron microscopy and materials science. His group focuses on the development and application of new and often in situ electron microscopy techniques to image and quantify nanoscale phenomena critical for our understanding of structure-property relationships in materials. These new techniques have impacted our understanding of nanomechanics  deformation in metals, polymer structure, laser-materials interactions and phase transformations. A summer intern will be able to work at the National Center for Electron Microscopy in the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, helping to implement new electron microscopy imaging techniques. A background in Matlab/Python and image processing is desirable. 

Naomi Ginsberg

Research in the Ginsberg lab  pushes the limits of spatially resolved spectroscopy and time resolved microscopy in multiple modalities, tailored to answer fundamental and challenging questions that span chemistry, physics, and biology, many of which pertain to interrogating dynamic nanoscale processes in energy-related materials that are formed through deposition from the solution-phase.  Although this approach to material formation is facile and energy efficient, it often results in heterogeneous, kinetically trapped structures far from equilibrium. One of our main goals is therefore to elucidate how these materials’ physical structure, including the nature of their heterogeneities and defects, determines their emergent optoelectronic properties. To do so, we conceive and develop multiple new forms of dynamic optical microscopies with sub-diffraction resolution, each tailored to a particular class of materials and their associated femtosecond-to-minutes dynamics. For resolving the dynamics of energy flow we primarily employ ultrafast optical microscopies; to resolve dynamic material structures we perform in situ X-ray scattering, yet primarily extend the applicability cathodoluminescence microscopy to soft materials otherwise too delicate to withstand electron beam illumination.

Mary Scott

Research in Scott Lab uses high resolution characterization with electron microscopy to relate defects and disorder in nanoscale systems to their functionality and evolution through time. Our goal is to combine state-of-the-art characterization with electron microscopy and modern mathematical methods to better understand functional nanoscale materials. Current projects include 3D characterization of twisted nanowires, scanning nanodiffraction studies of crystal-amorphous interfaces, machine learning classification of images of nanoparticles, and multimodal analysis of complex catalysts. Suggested skills: Familiarity with MATLAB and Python.

University of Colorado Boulder

Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn
Research in our lab focuses on ultrafast laser and x-ray science and using these new tabletop light sources for imaging and spectroscopy experiments spanning physics, nano and materials science and engineering. The X-ray sources we currently use in medicine, security screening, and science are in essence the same X-ray light bulb source that Röntgen used in 1895. In the same way that visible lasers can concentrate light energy far better than a light bulb, a directed beam of X-rays would have many useful applications in science and technology.  To achieve this and make a practical, tabletop-scale, X-ray laser source, we transforming a beam of light from a visible femtosecond laser into a beam of directed X-rays. This makes it possible to build near-perfect X-ray microscopes that can capture how materials function.

Markus Raschke
Our lab’s interests lie in linear and nonlinear optical spectroscopy at surfaces and of nanostructures. For simultaneous spatial information we explore new routes for ultrahigh resolution optical imaging far beyond the diffraction limit. Topics include single molecule spectroscopy, surface photochemistry, molecular plasmonics, as well as surface electron dynamics and electron-phonon interaction.

Rafael Piestun
The research in Dr. Piestun's group deals with the control and processing of optical radiation at two significant spatial and temporal scales: the nanometer and the femtosecond. Interest in this area arises from the existence of new phenomena occurring at these scales and the fascinating applications in new devices and systems.
Suggested Skills: Motivation to succeed.

Fort Lewis College

Megan Paciaroni

The ultrafast optics lab at Fort Lewis College uses ultrashort pulse amplified laser systems to provide unprecedented temporal resolution for a wide range of applications within biology, chemistry, engineering, and materials science. Many fundamental physical processes occur during ultrafast time scales, and ultrashort pulsed lasers have enabled us to probe these processes. The new laser facility at FLC will be used in research programs focusing on imaging combustion spray dynamics and propulsion science, Generation IV nuclear reactors, the dynamics of liquid phase molecular energy transfer, photoluminescence and surface morphology of porous silicon, characterization of photovoltaic materials, materials characterization, and the development of innovative microscopy capabilities. Specifically, Dr. Paciaroni’s research focuses on application of ultrafast imaging techniques of spray combustion processes, materials characterization and nonlinear optical phenomena. For more info on Paciaroni’s work, visit

Jeff Jessing

The Nanofabrication and Characterization Laboratory at Fort Lewis College is equipped with thin film processing equipment, electro-chemical reaction cells, a custom-built high vacuum probe station and characterization instruments such as an atomic force microscope and a field emission scanning electron microscope.  Dr. Jessing’s research involves the formation and characterization of novel materials applied to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices with target applications in exotic propulsion systems, electron field emission devices, and organ-on-chips.

Florida International University

Jessica Ramella-Roman

Biomedical Optics is a multidisciplinary research discipline that includes physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry and engineering. Our research at FIU focuses on the development of optics-based devices and methodologies for diagnosis of disease that can be used clinically. We are seeking motivated undergraduate student that are interested in learning about optics and medicine. During the (8-10 weeks) summer Research Experience for Undergraduates the students will first learn the fundamentals of optics and light travel into biological media. Particularly they will focus on polarized light methodologies. The second part of the experience will involve the design and development of portable imaging tools that can be deployed at the point of care.

Jin He

Our lab develops scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM) based multifunctional imaging technique for live cell imaging. We are interested to develop new imaging modality of SICM to map the extracellular potential/surface charge in real time and with high spatial resolution, and correlate the electrostatic properties of cell membrane with cell activities and functions.  We are also interested to integrate the nanoprobe based electrical measurement approach with conventional and nonconventional optical imaging techniques and surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy to study single molecule dynamics. The summer undergraduate will work closely with a graduate student and the typical work include sample preparation, nanoprobe fabrication and characterization, image and spectroscopy acquisition and data analysis.

University of California Irvine

Franklin Dollar

The work done in the Ultrafast Laser Plasma Interactions lab focuses on generating compact radiation sources in high intensity laser matter interactions. Laser pulses with durations of femtoseconds can achieve extreme intensities which can instantly ionize matter into plasma and drive electrons relativistic in a single optical cycle. This highly complex and nonlinear regime is capable of generating particle beams of electrons and light ions, as well as coherent x-ray sources. We study these interactions both through experiments in vacuum chambers as well as numerically with high performance computing. SURS scholars have performed projects on Laser Wakefield acceleration, high harmonic generation, laser mode shaping, and coherent diffractive imaging. 

Laura Tucker

Our work focuses on physics education research. At UCI, a large public and minority serving institution, we are developing and implementing new ways of teaching introductory physics, and use various techniques including interviews and statistical analysis to evaluate the effectiveness. We are looking for student researchers who are enthusiastic about teaching and learning, and who would like to develop their programming and data analysis skills. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If I am not a US citizen, can I apply to the STROBE Undergraduate Summer Research Program?

We are currently accepting applications from both US citizen and non-citizen undergraduates.


How do I submit a letter of recommendation if my advisor wants his/her letter to remain confidential?

If your advisor wishes their letter to remain confidential, inform them to email it directly to Sarah Schreiner at

When preparing to submit your application in the STROBE Undergraduate Application Form, please upload a document in the Letter of Recommendation file that states the letter of recommendation will be emailed, and provide information on your recommender (name, email, university, etc.).


Can I apply to more than one STROBE research laboratory?

Yes! There are many great STROBE labs, and it can be difficult to pick just one. You may indicate up to three laboratories that you would like to work with as well as a brief explanation of why you are interested in those labs.


Can I apply if I don't currently attend one of the institutions listed?

Yes! We do not require you to be a student at one of the institutions listed to apply. If your application is accepted, the program will cover travel expenses to the STROBE institution to which you were accepted.