Research Mentors

Experiential Learning: Physics Beyond the Classroom

Hands-on research experience for undergraduates is valued highly in the department (read a case story in the newsletter Interactions 6). Many members of the physics faculty invite exceptional undergraduate students to join in their research initiatives. Some research activities may lead to part-time employment during the academic year, or full-time employment during the summer months.

Interested students should:

Experimental Research Mentors

John Cerne: Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Cerne studies novel materials using magneto-polarimetry. Undergraduate research projects typically involve building electronic, optical, or mechanical systems for improving old/making new measurements. These instruments are then tested and used by the students for measurements. Students also participate in new measurements, which can lead to a senior thesis. Students should have an interest and motivation to do experimental research.

Ia Iashvili and Avto Kharchilava: Experimental High Energy Physics

Professors Kharchilava and Iashvili work on the D0 experiment ( ) at Fermilab, near Chicago, and the CMS experiment ( ) at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. Both experiments are designed to study properties of fundamental particles, interactions between them, as well as to search for new phenomena. Students should be able to program in C++ and have a basic knowledge of UNIX/Linux systems.

Hong Luo: Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Luo studies spin-related effects in semiconductors, and fabricates and studies semiconductor nanostructures.

Andrea Markelz: Experimental Biophysics and Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Markelz uses terahertz and ultra fast laser techniques to probe collective vibrational mode response in biological molecules, and carrier and phonon dynamics in solid state systems.

Athos Petrou: Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Petrou studies semiconductor nanostructures using spectroscopic techniques (reflectance, photoluminescence, electroluminescence, and Raman spectroscopies) in the visible and near infrared. His main research effort concentrates on injection of spin polarized electrons from ferromagnetic metals into quantum wells and quantum dots, as well as electron spin manipulation in devices.

Arnd Pralle: Experimental Biophysics

Professor Pralle uses laser tweezers to study protein mechanics and membrane structur, magnetic nanoparticles to remotely control protein function and optical microscopy to quantify and model cellular organization.

Salvatore Rappoccio: Experimental High Energy Physics

Professor Rappoccio's research interests are focused on "natural" solutions to the question of why the electroweak scale is different from the Planck scale. The solutions Prof. Rappoccio is most interested in are those where top quarks play a special role in this process, including examinations of models that predict extra spatial dimensions in our universe, and supersymmetry (SUSY).

As a member of the CMS Collaboration, Prof. Rappoccio has been actively involved since 2007. He is involved in QCD jet reconstruction and triggering, advanced techniques for identifying fast-moving heavy particles like top quarks and W/Z/H bosons, and upgrades to the CMS detector in 2013-2015.

Hao Zeng: Experimental Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Zeng's research interests are in synthesis of nanoscale magnetic materials, nanodevice fabrication for electron transport studies, magnetic and magnetotransport characterizations. Students who are interested in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and are motivated to learn, are encouraged to apply. Students with basic knowledge of chemistry and/or programming skills are especially welcome.

Theoretical Research Mentors

Jong Han: Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Han's main research topics are modeling of quantum many-body effects in electronic devices and strongly correlated systems, and simulation of magnetic behavior in nanoscale magnets.

Xuedong Hu: Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Hu's main research topics are solid state quantum computing, coherent control in semiconductor heterostructures, spintronics, and quantum fluctuations in solids. The focus of Prof. Hu's research has been to study and to manipulate quantum coherence, correlation, and fluctuations, and to explore their role in future nanoscale devices.

Will Kinney: Theoretical Astrophysics and Cosmology

Professor Kinney works at the interface between particle physics and astrophysics as it applies to the universe immediately after the Big Bang.

Surajit Sen: Theoretical Physics

Professor Sen works on nonlinear phenomena in systems with many degrees of freedom. His projects concern dust dynamics, shock absorption, and solitons.

Doreen Wackeroth: Theoretical Particle Physics

Professor Wackeroth is interested in offering independent study in particle physics. Her research aims to confront and challenge our understanding of the fundamental forces of nature and the mechanism of mass generation at the quantum level through precision experiments.

Peihong Zhang: Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Zhang's long-term research objectives are unified around the theme of understanding and predicting materials properties from first principles, with emphases on nanostructured and other novel materials, computational materials design, and development of new theoretical and computational techniques.