undergraduate research

Physics Reading Seminar

Students can ramp up on research skills via a one-quarter long physics reading seminar series. The procedure is:

  1. Students form a group of 5 to 10 with a specific research topic;
  2. Students contact Chair of the Department at least one month before the quarter begins; and
  3. The Department Chair will find a graduate student or a postdoc who is willing to supervise the group via weekly meetings.

The supervisor will provide readings and assignments as needed. The final deliverable would be a 5 page writeup in two-column LaTeX. Both students and the supervisor will receive certificates from the Department Chair, recognizing their work.

Getting Involved in Research

We strongly encourage our physics majors to get involved in research during their program. There are many benefits of doing so. Even if your ultimate goal is not to be a researcher, performing research will teach you many things that you'll never learn from a traditional physics course.

However, finding a research opportunity can be an interesting task. There is no magic formula other than persistence and effort. It is important to keep in mind that your effort to get involved in physics research need not be limited to faculty in the physics department. Physics is practiced in many different units at Chicago by people with many different titles. The following list of research units have people engaged in physics-related research:

Units Engaged in Physics-related Research

Department of Physics
Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Department of Chemistry
Institute for Molecular Engineering
Enrico Fermi Institute
James Franck Institute
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Institute for Biophysical Dynamics
Computation Institute
Committee on Medical Physics
Geophysical Sciences
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics
Argonne National Laboratory
Department of Mathematics

Some of the researchers in the units listed above are here as research scientists and won't be found on lists of university faculty. You'll have to seek them out, mainly by asking faculty and graduate students involved in those units, and checking the web.

You should take full advantage of any summer research programs for which you are eligible. For U.S. citizens, in addition to the National Science Foundation's REU program, there are also government research programs sponsored by NASA, the Department of Energy, and several national research laboratories. Be sure to look for and apply to these programs as well.

For examples of undergraduate research see the undergraduate profiles page.