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Undergraduate Research Opportunities at UD

Before you contact an individual faculty member who has never taught you in a class, you should be sure you have read the advice on this website for  “Getting Started." Note especially that advisement about how to approach faculty researchers is available from the Undergraduate Research Program (email to schedule an appointment) and from the Undergraduate Research Advisor in each department. See also UD Undergraduate Research Program.

Faculty members in the Department who currently have undergrad students in their group or are accepting new undergrad students:



Prof. John Clem

  • Topics: Calibration of instruments used in cosmic ray experiments using high altitude balloons. Simulations of cosmic ray air showers propagating through the atmosphere.

Prof. Matt DeCamp

  • Topics: Research focuses on studying sub-picosecond dynamics of complex systems. This time scale is characteristic of atomic motion within both semiconductors as well as biological samples. Currently, we are constructing a laser based ultrafast x-ray system. Because x-rays are very sensitive to atomic scale structure, this state-of-the-art system will be able to directly monitor the atomic motion within complex molecules. Research opportunities include, constructing laser and x-ray diagnostics, computer programming, molecular spectroscopy, and vacuum system construction.

Prof. Paul Evenson

  • Topics: We expect to fly a balloon payload from Texas or New Mexico, probably in July, to test an interface to a new, lightweight support package. The ultimate goal is to be able to conduct flights from Sweden to Canada at altitudes of 160,000 feet or higher. We could use a general assistant who is reasonably handy with tools and equipment, as well as being computer literate. He or she would also have to be physically capable of helping with packing and moving boxes and crates.

Prof. Thomas Gaisser

  • Topics: The potential work for a student in IceCube would be computational. There are several tasks associated with looking at data being taken at the South Pole. The work would require computing skills, but offers an insight into some interesting experimental results on cosmic-ray cascades.

Prof. George Hadjipanayis

  • Topics: Biomagnetics research in the Magnetics lab is focused on investigations of nanoparticles for cancer detection and treatment.  We look to synthesize iron nanoparticles with a biopolymer coating to develop an understanding of how synthesis routes affect the resulting static and dynamic properties.  In doing this we can look at the nanoparticles as highly localized sources of magnetic field and heating that are important in the resolution of MRI imaging and cancer therapy.

Prof. Yi Ji

  • Topics: We make small structures by patterning thin metallic films. This type of structures are potentially useful for technologies such as magnetic recording, electronic devices etc. We characterize the electronic properties of these structures through electrical measurements, often in large magnetic fields and at low temperatures.

Prof. Ed Lyman

  • Topics: Our research aims to understand the biophysics of life at the molecular scale, with the ultimate goal of improving human health and treating disease. Our tools of choice are statistical physics and massively parallel computation, which we use to develop new approaches and predictive models for problems in drug discovery and the function of cell membranes. Undergraduate students will be well-prepared for graduate study in computational physics and biology, or for a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

Prof. James MacDonald

  • Topics: Testing models for the heat capacity of solid cores of stars by comparing these models to actual heat capacity data obtained in the laboratory.

Prof. Branislav K. Nikolic

  • Topics: Micromagentic simulations of nanomagnets and magentic tunnel junction-based sensors for biological molecule detection. Computational carbon nanoelectronics.

Prof. Stan Owocki

  • Topics: Our group studies how massive stars can lose mass through both steady stellar "winds" and large, episodic eruptions. Recent focus has been on modeling the wind and giant eruption of the very massive star eta Carinae, comparing results with observations with the Hubble space telescope as well as from other orbiting and ground-based observatories. Another effort focuses on the effect of magnetic fields in channeling and confining such wind outflows. Students can become involved in various projects with theoretical or computational focus, as well as analyzing and modeling observational data. The group currently consists of three grad students.

Prof. Judi Provencal

  • Topics: High speed photometry of pulsating stars.  Most of the work is done  at UD, students interested in observing  may spend time at Mount Cuba.

Prof. David Seckel

  • Topics: Assist in the development of computer code to simulate the propagation and detection of electromagnetic pulses produced by energetic cosmic ray particles interacting in Antarctic Ice.

Prof. Qaisar Shafi

  • Topics: Current research topics are:Unified theories in four and higher dimensions;  Supersymmetry signals at LHC (Large Hadron Collider); Inflationary Cosmology and origin of matter in the universe; Dark energy and dark matter; Some knowledge of quantum mechanics and relativity would be helpful. Students will be able to interact with graduate students and postdocs.

Prof. Ismat Shah

  • Topics: Students are working in the synthesis and characterization of nanostructured materials. The interest, primarily, is in the use of these materials for environmental cleanup and energy generation.

Prof. Michael Shay

  • Topics: We study space plasma physics using computer simulations. The focus is on magnetic reconnection, a magnetic energy release process of  fundamental importance in solar and magnetospheric plasmas. We are also studying novel numerical schemes to simulate multiscale problems which defy solution by conventional codes. Undergraduate students will run existing computer simulations or develop their own as part of this research.

Prof. Krzysztof Szalewicz

  • Topics: The main field of research involves intermolecular forces.  Our investigations include quantum mechanical calculations of intermolecular interaction potentials and fits of computed data by analytic potentials.  Some knowledge of quantum mechanics is required.  The potentials are then used in molecular simulations of the condensed (liquid) phase and of small clusters of molecules.  These are usually classical mechanics calculations, so this subfield may be a better choice for undergraduate projects.

Prof. Karl Unruh

  • Topics: Current projects are 1) the development of a route for the fabrication of magnetic nano-particles through chemical synthesis. 2) The characterization of those particles using thermal measurements to determine the heat capacity and detect phase transitions. 3) The development of a new computer code for the analysis of x-ray data.

Prof. Barry Walker

  • Topics: The research in this group investigates the science of atoms, molecules, and light. Fundamental questions we address include: (1) Interactions of matter with ultraintense laser fields; (2) Laser technology for high power, ultrafast lasers. These areas are addressed with both experimental and theoretical efforts in the group. Essential physics investigations, which are applicable to such problems as laser fusion and LIDAR, are augmented by practical skills. Students are expected to work with laser technology, computer code, and learn basic experimental skills including ACAD, machining, ultrahigh vacuum technology, and data collection. See for additional information.

Prof. John Xiao

  • Topics: Fabrication of various  nanostructures including nanofibers, nanowire array, porous materials, nanoparticles, and multilayer thin films.  These nanostructured materials are used in a variety of applications including high frequency electronics such as DC/DC convertors, microwave devices such as miniaturized antenna and microwave imager, , energy storage such as supercapacitor, and information storage and processing such nonvolatile memories.   Softwave packages such as Electromagnetic Field Simulation for High-Performance Electromechanical Design (Maxwell 3D) and 3D Full-wave Electromagnetic Field Simulation (HFSS) are also used to assist experimental studies.