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SURF Program Research Opportunities in Boulder, Colorado

The research opportunities for the 2024 SURF Boulder program are under construction. Some are posted now; more will be posted soon. You may start your application today, and revise it to indicate your research opportunity preferences later.

Applicants are required to list their top six preferences for research opportunities in the online questions section of the application available on by 11:59 pm ET on January 31, 2024.

View past projects:
2023 SURF Abstract Book - in person & virtual projects
2022 SURF Abstract Book - virtual projects only
2021 SURF Abstract Book - virtual projects only

2023 Acceptance Rate for SURF Boulder: 15% 

2024 ReSEARCH OPPOrtunities

Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL)

RF Technology Division (Div 672)

672-1 Building the Quantum Internet with Microwave-Optical Quantum Transducers
Tasshi Dennis, 303-497-3507, tasshi.dennis [at]
Networking superconducting quantum computers will allow them to scale and reach unprecedented capacity far beyond classical computers. We are creating remote microwave entanglement with optical two-mode squeezed states and microwave-optical transducers. This in-person opportunity involves characterization of a mechanical membrane transducer operated at millikelvin temperatures to understand thresholds for network operation. We offer hands-on experience with quantum optics, microwave electronics, control systems, and cryogenics. [In-person opportunity]

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Information Technology Laboratory (ITL)

Statistical Engineering Division (Div 776)

776-1 Method Development and Best Practices for Atomic Clock Metrology
Amanda Koepke, 303-497-4047, aak3 [at] (aak3[at]nist[dot]gov)
NIST researchers recently demonstrated that optical atomic clocks can make frequency ratio measurements with 18-digit accuracies, a significant advance towards the future redefinition the second, with implications for GPS accuracy and dark matter detection. However, these optical clocks are more prone to down time than the microwave clocks used in the past, creating “gappy” data which often strain, or outright violate, the assumptions underlying the statistical models currently used. This project centers around investigating and advancing our new and improved method for the analysis of clock data using a multitaper spectral analysis approach. Some knowledge of spectral analysis would be helpful, but not required; programming experience in R is essential. [In-person opportunity]

776-2 That Doesn't Compute: Examining Phishing Email Click Rates
Julia Sharp, 303-868-0708, [at] (julia[dot]sharp[at]boulder[dot]nist[dot]gov)
Organizations use the NIST Phish Scale to assess their phishing awareness training program’s effectiveness. The Phish Scale is a categorization of how difficult a phishing email is for humans to detect and allows for understanding the association with a training program’s simulated phishing email exercise click rate. For example, an email that is classified as difficult to detect may have a higher click rate than an email that is less difficult for a person to detect. In this setting, the click rate is defined as the number of people who click on a simulated phishing email divided by the total number of emails sent during the phishing awareness exercise. This definition of the click rate metric may underestimate the actual click rate. For example, the total number of emails sent, comprised of the total number of emails open and unopened, may be overestimated. In this project, we will conduct a literature review on click rates, response rates, and open rates, conduct an analysis or simulation of either an existing or simulated data set to understand how the calculation of the click rate may impact the association with the Phish Scale detection difficulty, and report results through presentation and a brief report. Programming experience in R is essential.  [Virtual opportunity]

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Material Measurement Laboratory (MML)

Applied Chemicals and Materials Division (Div 647)

647-1 Supercritical CO2 Corrosion of Pipelines
May Martin, 303-497-5235, may.martin [at] (may[dot]martin[at]nist[dot]gov)
As carbon capture and sequestration is increasingly viewed as a vital part of a carbon neutral energy system, the transport of carbon from its capture point to the sequestration point needs to be considered.  Steel pipelines are the most efficient means of transporting the CO2.  However, steels are susceptible to corrosion by CO¬2, especially if certain impurities, such as water, are present.  The candidate would have the opportunity to work in a specially design CO2 corrosion facility, setting up the instrumentation and running experiments. [In-person opportunity]

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Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML)

Time and Frequency Division (Div 688)

688-1 Software Applications to Support the NIST Time Scale and Time Services
Judah Levine, 303-497-3903, judah.levine [at] (judah[dot]levine[at]boulder[dot]nist[dot]gov)
The NIST Time and Frequency Division operates an ensemble of atomic clocks that define the NIST time scale and are the reference for a number of services that distribute this information.  The division operates network-based time servers at multiple locations that respond to requests for time in a number of formats. A student working in this program will learn the basics of the atomic clock ensemble and the services that distribute time information in digital formats. An important aspect is monitoring the performance of the service in near real time. The student will develop applications that support these requirements. Some experience with programming in a high level language (such as Python or equivalent) is necessary. In addition, it would ve useful if a student had some experience in elementary statistics, although this is not a strict requirement. [In-person opportunity]

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Created September 28, 2009, Updated November 30, 2023