University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Physics

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

For undergraduate Physics majors, research can be conducted either during the semester for class credit or during the summer with a stipend.  Often, undergraduate research leads to thesis research, either as part of the John Dewey Honors Program or for Departmental honors.  In many instances, undergraduate research results have been published in professional peer-reviewed scientific journals. NSF and NIH-funded researchers can apply for additional funds to support undergraduates in their labs. In addition, the Department awards students from the A. Crowell Fund to support undergraduate research in Physics.

Computational Biophysics (Vanegas)

 We use molecular simulations to understand the physical principles underlying the function of biological systems. This is pertitnent to lipid biomembranes, mechanosenstive channels, and enzymatic catalysis. We study the connection between chemical structure and mechanical properties at the nanoscale. Researchers in our group contribute to the development and implementation of local stress calculations from molecular dynamic simulations. If interested, please contact Professor Juan Vanegas at 

Optoelectronic Devices (White)

Our research efforts focus on materials for optoelectronic devices like solar cells and LEDs. We are exploring low-cost and high-efficiency solar cell materials. We aim to construct electroluminescent devices with resonant cavities at visible wavelengths If you wand to join us in exploring the world of materials and device device physics at UVM, contact Professor Matthew White at

Theoretical Physics (Clougherty)

For undergraduates who have completed some of the 200-level course work in physics, there are opportunities to pursue research projects in theoretical physics under faculty supervision. Theoretical projects typically involve using mathematical techniques to study the behavior of a model system.  To make quantitative connections to experimental data, we often use computers available on campus to numerically study a specific system.

Vibrating cluster of C60 with a Potassium Atom
Vibrating cluster of C60 molecules with a Potassium atom.

Some recent student research projects are listed below.  Many of these projects involve one or more of the following branches of physics: atomic and molecular physics, condensed matter physics, quantum physics, surface physics, chemical physics, and statistical physics.  Projects frequently relate to developing an understanding of the properties of molecules, clusters, and solids, starting from a foundation of quantum mechanics.  Such studies contribute to the emerging field of nanoscience, the science of systems whose spatial extent is of the order of nanometers!

Future undergraduate research projects include investigating new ways of making a quantum computer, exploring how biopolymers like DNA stick to surfaces, and studying the nature of the van der Waals interaction.  (That may be what enables the gecko to walk on walls!)  More details can be found on Professor Clougherty’s web site.

Undergraduate research projects in theoretical physics supervised by Professor Clougherty:

Ultrasonics and Optics (Wu)

Projects usually involves (but not limited to) applications of ultrasound and light.  Recent student research projects include: Nonlinear behaviors of bubbles, delivery of drugs and DNA on target, acoustic imaging and optical trapping.    For those who are interested in this area, please contact Professor Junru Wu via

Last modified August 03 2017 12:45 PM