The Astronomy Major Experience

As an Astronomy major, the world becomes your school and your workplace. Whether it is through remote observing facilities in the Department or traveling to WIYN (Kitt Peak in Arizona), SALT (Sutherland, South Africa) or other observatories, our majors have the possibility of a broad variety of observing experiences before they graduate. Along the way, some students may also become involved with building instruments, learning electronics, materials fabrication, machining, and other skills.

Briana shares her experience as a UW Astronomy major. You can also find further information on Briana's experiences below:


Briana attended a CTIO REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in La Serena, Chile. Summer REU opportunities are funded by the NSF. Sites are located here and abroad. 


Consider applying for a NASA summer program or scholarship. Some of these programs occur only at NASA centers, but others are designed to support students at universities.


Briana also attended the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics 'Introduction to Astronomical Instrumentation' 5 day summer school course, one of the many summer school opportunities available to students.


Undergraduates working with research projects in the department may have the opportunity to attend a AAS meeting to present a poster, meet with others working in their area of interest, and discuss the research project they are involved with.


Prepare for your future through workshops and events offered by the Astronomy Department.  You can also volunteer to assist with these events.


Visit the Astronomy Club at UW-Madison on Facebook for information on planned meetings and events including astronomy movies, viewing the Orionids meteor shower at Pine Bluff Observatory, interesting presentations and talks, and other activities. The Astronomy Club is open to UW-Madison Undergraduate and Graduate/Professional students, majors, and non-majors with an interest in astronomy.


Briana received several awards, including the Lowell Doherty Award listed below. Please see the following UW sites for scholarship and award opportunities: Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Awards, the Undergraduate Academic Awards Office, Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH), and Scholarships at UW-Madison.


-Lowell Doherty Award for Excellence in Astronomy: Recognition of a graduating senior's exceptional performance in astronomical research and in the classroom as an Astronomy-Physics major.

-University Bookstore Award

-Fay Ajzenberg-Selove Award: In support of undergraduate women majoring in or planning to major in astronomy, physics, or astrophysics.

-Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowship

-Bernice Durand Award: In support of undergraduate women and ethnic minorities in physics and astronomy. Students must have completed 3 semesters intro classical and modern physics or its equivalent. A Research Statement is required.

-Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Award: Awards are based upon a commitment to space related studies and an indication of an on-going or a proposed program of undergraduate space-related studies.

-Physics Department Awards and Scholarships

-Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation:  If you are interested in receiving a Goldwater Scholarship, you must be nominated for the award by your institution. Most academic institutions have a Goldwater Campus Representative and it is this individual who submits your nomination on behalf of your academic institution. You may not apply directly for the scholarship.  The UW-Madison Campus Representative is Julie Stubbs,

-Sophomore Research Fellowship:  Funded by grants from the Brittingham Fund and the Kemper K. Knapp Bequest, the Sophomore Research Fellowships support undergraduate research done in collaboration with UW–Madison faculty or research/instructional academic staff. The student researcher receives $2,500, and faculty/staff research advisor receives $500 to help offset research costs (e.g., supplies, student travel related to the project).

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