SURF @ Dark Cosmology Centre – University of Copenhagen

SURF @ Dark Cosmology Centre

The summer program will take place at the Dark Cosmology Centre, part of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen

The Dark Cosmology Centre is starting an undergraduate summer program in conjunction with the Caltech SURF program. Thanks to their generosity, we hope to have approximately 3-5 Caltech students come to Copenhagen and work with us this summer. Formally, these will be SURF projects taking place in Denmark. Thus, students will prepare a SURF application and be asked to write two progress reports and a final report as well as give an on-campus talk or poster in October.

Since travel within Europe can be quite cheap, we plan for this to be an 11 week program (roughly from the official SURF start date around June 19 to September 1), so that students can take a one week vacation to see other parts of Europe. We're still trying to finalize ways to subsidize travel and housing (we'll update this later!), and our goal is that students will have about the same take-home pay after travel/housing as they would if they stayed in Caltech housing over the summer.

A couple of projects are already posted on the SURF website. Some of the other research interests of our department can be found here. Only some of the faculty will be around to mentor projects over the summer, with Sune Toft, Charles Steinhardt, Lise Christensen, and Steen Hansen the most likely. These are all projects in astronomy and astrophysics, but we would be happy to have other majors join us for the summer. I would recommend that you only apply for the program if you're at least potentially interested in this as a future direction of research, since otherwise you can probably find a summer project that's more in line with your interests. However, we're happy to have, e.g., somebody with a biology background who has also been possibly interested in astrophysics and wants to find out more about it before deciding which directions are more interesting going forward.

We hope to finalize who will be coming by mid-January, to make sure that there will be plenty of time to both write a SURF proposal (due February 22) and take care of any necessary visa/housing. We will ask interested students to send us a short description (no more than 500 words -- we don't want this to be an onerous task) of you and the sorts of questions that you find most interesting, a CV, and a reference letter. [For people who haven't done a SURF before, you'll end up needing a few reference letters for the SURF application, so you're just asking for one a little earlier than you'd otherwise need to.

How to apply:

When is the deadline?

  • Full consideration will be given to applications received by December 19. After that, we will begin matching students with mentors but will consider late applications if there are still spots open.

What should I send?

  • A brief (max one page, and shorter is fine) statement telling us about a problem in any aspect of science that you find interesting or motivating, why you want to work on an astronomy project this summer, etc. (i.e., a little bit about yourself and your research interests, but you definitely do not need to describe a problem that you've already worked on!)
  • Your curriculum vitae
  • Please request that a recommendation letter be sent independently

Where should I send it?

  • Please send all application materials to

When will I hear back?

  • By mid-January


I'm a freshman. Can I apply anyway?

  • Yes! Some of the projects will be most suitable for researchers with a more formal background, but one of the wonderful things about astronomy is that there are many projects which require relatively little background in order to get to the point that you can make a useful contribution. We would like to have students with a range of backgrounds come to Copenhagen this summer.

Is this open to students from all universities?

  • This specific summer program is part of the Caltech SURF program, and so we can only admit Caltech students for 2017. However, students also visit Niels Bohr through other programs, and we would be happy to let you know about other opportunities as they come up.

Should I apply to a specific project?

  • If you have a specific project in mind, please let us know when you apply, and we will try and match you up with that project.  However, we might also end up suggesting a match with a different mentor, particularly if most people end up requesting the same project.  

I have some more questions.  Who can I ask?

  • Please contact Charles Steinhardt ( with additional questions about the program.