wide angle shot of new labs

Undergraduate physics majors at UVM can conduct research 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 departmental honors. 

It’s not uncommon for undergraduate students publish their research 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 support in undergraduate research in physics.

Computational Biophysics

We use molecular simulations to understand the physical principles underlying the function of biological systems. This is pertinent 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 Juan.Vanegas@uvm.edu

Optoelectronic Devices

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 want to join us in exploring the world of materials and device physics at UVM, contact Professor Matthew White at Mathew.White.1@uvm.edu

Theoretical Physics

(Image at left: Vibrating cluster of C60 molecules with a Potassium atom). 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. Many 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.

 Ultrasonics and Optics

These projects usually involve (but are 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. Students interested in this area can contact Professor Junru Wu via junru-wu@uvm.edu.

  • Henry Mitchell

    Research Interests Lead to Graduate Program at John's Hopkins

    Henry Mitchell’s interests span many worlds. The math and physics major has done research with five different professors in three different departments (one of which resulted in a published paper). How? “Just knock on doors. Go places and introduce yourself,” says Mitchell. He met Larner College of Medicine faculty member Matt Mahoney, whose work on epilepsy focuses on statistical analysis of neural activity. Mitchell’s honor’s thesis is investigating a link between those odd chimera states and patterns observed in neural models. Someday, the research could be used to better understand how seizures arise and spread in the brain. Reflecting back on the research and exploration he’s done in his four years here, “knowing that those opportunities were available was a huge part of why I ended up coming to UVM.” He dove into campus life, too – playing intramural soccer, DJing at WRUV, tutoring peers, and giving campus tours as an AdvoCat. Next up: Johns Hopkins for a post-baccalaureate pre-med program. An internship at Goddard Space Flight Center last summer cemented his hopes of someday seeing outer space. “I would love to be a NASA flight surgeon.”

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Yamagata University Research Experience

Learn more about our ten-week research and learning adventure at Yamagata University, the birthplace of the organic white light emitting diode (WOLED), located in Yonezawa, the hometown of the famous Teijin Ltd Company, world leader in polymer materials production and innovation. Prior knowledge of Japanese language and culture is not required. Application is due January 31, 2019, and program dates are May 24-August 5, 2019.

Undergraduate research projects in physics 

  • Katy Czar, Strain Effects on Coherent Excitons in Organic Crystalline Thin Films (Physics Senior Honors Thesis, 2019)
  • Renee Beneski, Critical Films on Graphene Substrates (Physics Senior Honors Thesis, 2018)
  • Lynn Brinkman, Polarization and Pulsars (PDF), (Physics Honors Thesis, 2017)
  • Michael V. Arnold, Optical and Electronic Investigation of Hydrogen-Bonded Organic Semiconductor Quinacridone, (Physics Senior Honors Thesis, 2017)
  • Haley Megan Wahl, Cores & Conces and the Case of the Misbehaving Neutron Stars, (Physics Senior Honors Thesis, 2017)
  • Daniel Gordon Allman, Mode Entanglement in the Lieb-Liniger Model (PDF), (Physics Honors Thesis, 2015)