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Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Research is an important component of the undergraduate physics experience.  It provides exposure to the way that physics is actually done in real life and can assist students in deciding whether or not to pursue graduate studies in physics.  A semester of research in physics or astronomy (or in a related field, approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies) is a requirement for graduation (see major requirements), and undergraduate research has become a major factor in admissions decisions by Ph.D. programs.

So how should you begin?  Take a look at the research areas of our faculty members, and think about which of these areas interest you the most.  Do you want to do an experimental project?  A theory project?  A computational project?

The next step is to contact faculty members in the department to see if they are able to supervise a project with you.  We provide here a list of faculty in the department who have supervised or are interested in supervising undergraduate research.  Not all of these faculty will be available to supervise you at any given time.  Some may be temporarily oversubscribed with undergraduate projects, while others may be on sabbatical or simply not working on a suitable project at the moment.  Furthermore, you should not limit yourself to the faculty members listed here.  There may be other members of the department who would be able to provide a suitable project.  Projects in related fields, such as engineering, computer science, or mathematics, can also satisfy the physics graduation requirements if there is sufficient overlap with physics or astronomy.   As always, feel free to consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies with any questions.

Type of ResearchResearh Topic(s)Helpful skills or Background
Experimental/computingCollider physics, data analysis, statistical toolsPython or C++ are not strictly required but would be very helpful
Yi Chen
Experimental, theoretical, computational, and combination of the threeHigh-energy particle physics, collider phenomenology, particle detector R&D, dark matter, Higgs boson, probing theories/particles beyond the Standard Model (grand unification, fifth force, supergravity, supersymmetry, extra dimensions, etc.), machine learningI will teach students the necessary skills.
Alfredo Gurrola
Depending on interests, experimental, theoretical or computationalHarmonic generation in solids, insulator-metal transitions, interactions of light and matter at ultrafast time scalesIntroductory physics course/laboratory
Richard Haglund
Experimental and computational projects Biophysics, cell mechanics, laser ablation, wound responses, confocal live-cell imaging, machine learning for image processing, microfluidics, toxicology, organ-on-chip devicesExperience with python or Mathematica would be helpful, but not required.
Shane Hutson
Experimental, computational and phenomenology High energy nuclear physics, particle physics, CERN, machine learningSome familiarity with C++ or Python is necessary to start
Raghav Kunnawalkam Elayavalli
ComputationalProperties of different types of materialsA course in quantum mechanics is helpful
Sokrates Pantelides
Theoretical, computationalHigh-energy nuclear physics, heavy-ion collisions, proton collisions, relativistic fluid dynamics, data science and machine learning, Bayesian inference, perturbative field theoryFor theoretical projects, strong background in calculus and differential equations;
For computational projects, skills in Python, C/C++, familiarity with Linux; for certain projects, knowledge of statistics or machine learning skills are a plus.
J-F Paquet
Observational/experimental astrophysicsQuasars, supermassive black hole binaries, big dataUndergraduate coursework in astronomy, computer programming (especially in Python)
Jessie Runnoe
Theoretical / Computational AstrophysicsGravitational waves, black holes, neutron stars, big dataExperience with mathematical methods for the physical sciences will be very helpful. A basic knowledge of statistics and skills in Python programming (using numpy, scipy, etc).
Stephen Taylor
Theoretical and ComputationalCavity Quantum Electrodynamics, Coupled Maxwell-Quantum equations,
Interaction of laser and matter, Time-dependent quantum simulations
We will teach students the necessary skills.
Kalman Varga