Undergraduate Research

Participation in research with our faculty gives our majors a chance to use the problem-solving ability that we are teaching them and also gain new skills and make new professional contacts.  For many students, this experience is the beginning of a lifelong career.

Research participation may take different forms.  Students who have completed at least 12 hours of courses in the major may participate for course credit through PHYS492 Independent Study.  Students may also participate through Directed Study (PHYS397) as well as informal mentorships with our faculty members.  In each case, the first step is to talk to one of our faculty members and get their permission to participate.

You will find that our faculty members are more than willing to welcome you into their research group. They are required to list their independent study students and their informal mentorships as part of their total teaching load — They get credit for these activities.  In addition, many of them got their start as undergraduate researchers.

The exact nature of your research participation will depend on the area of research that you wish to join.  Our experimental physics researchers will usually want you to work on projects in their labs, where they will teach you what you need to know.  Our theorists do not have laboratories and do work that is based directly on graduate-level physics and mathematics.  They may wish you to take a Directed Study (PHYS397) course or other courses to give you the necessary background and may invite you to join their research group meetings.

Click here for a list of commonly asked questions about undergraduate research.