I’m looking into REU programs for this upcoming summer. I attended an REU this summer, did some great work (taught myself some tensor calculus, geodesic motion, relativistic E&M, and produced some pretty good results from my project), and I was planning on applying for another REU program this summer. My interests have sort of shifted, after doing independent studies in Adv. Classical/Classical II, from GR to nonlinear dynamics and chaotic systems (books I’m studying from are Classical Mechanics-Goldstein and Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems- Marion/Thornton). I was wandering if anyone was aware of any REU programs that concentrated in this field (nonlinear dynamics and chaotic systems). I’ve done some research, on such REU programs, and what I came up with was University of Maryland-College Park and the Sante Fe Institute. Is anyone aware of any other places? Do some government labs offer such topics? For example the Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) programs offered at places like Berkeley National Laboratory and SLAC might have such fields. I wrote a letter to someone at SLAC and she just pointed me to a website I already came across… I got nowhere with it.

Also, the guy I worked with this summer was a “big name” guy. Although I haven’t taken a GR course (or an E&M course before this semester), I was able to pick up a GR project that involved some relativistic E&M. He told me to continue the project at my home institute and I’ve emailed him a couple updates, but he never responded. I’m afraid he sort of forgot about me and was not “impressed” with anything I’ve done. Right now I’m in the process of getting a paper published, should I concentrate more on this paper and put that old REU project aside? Will that jeopardize a letter of recommendation from him for REU programs?

Lastly, after getting this paper out I’ve been invited to work on a couple more projects. Right now my choices, obviously I only want to choose one, are to either work on a LIGO project or work on a more theoretical project involving symmetry breakings in electrostatics/magnetostatics. I know the LIGO project will allow me to network more (getting in contact with people from places like MIT and CalTech… the researcher works closely with quite a bit of people), but it isn’t really anything “new”. I’m basically going to be stuck doing rigorous statistical analysis (purely mathematical and not computational) on some “theoretical” topics. Plus, the whole mission of the LIGO project seems to be too similar to my last research projects. Should I choose the more theoretical project of symmetry breaking in electrostatics/magnetostatics over the very common LIGO project? It seems silly to pose this question on a forum. I guess I'm just looking for anyones' input/opinions on the importance of diversity in projects and importance of networking as an undergraduate.