I have completed 2 REUs and about to start my third. I am studying both physics and math. Next year will be my last year as an undergrad and thus applying to physics graduate schools in the coming months. I am wanting to go into an experimental field in physics.
My first summer internship was at NASA Langley where I was working in material science/chemistry. Nothing directly physics related. I have two papers published from that summer. The second internship I had was at PPPL where I was working on plasma physics, so obviously a physics topic. No papers. The internship I'm about to start is again at NASA Langley where I will be working with the same mentor as previously, and again in material science/chemistry.
Does anyone know if the research I conducted at NASA would be relevant at all? Did I shoot myself in the foot with working there rather than getting an internship in, say, nuclear physics, etc.?
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Sure, it's relevant. Not many undergrad researchers in physics actually learn much physics in their REU. It's more about showing aptitude for research work. That can be in physics, engineering, math, CS, or anything really. It answers whether you've considered that a PhD isn't about learning in classes, but rather discovering; whether you are capable of working in a semi-supervised manner towards a goal; and whether you have aptitude for tackling at times vague and ill-bounded tasks.