At Carolina, faculty are expected to excel in both teaching and research. The idea behind a research university, such as Carolina, is not only that faculty use their research experience for the benefit of their teaching, but also that undergraduates take advantage of research opportunities to broaden their horizon and to improve their problem-solving skills.

We strongly encourage all of our undergraduate students to get involved in research with our faculty. Some of the mandatory courses for our major (e.g., PHYS 295 or 395) involve independent research. Besides this research for credit, many of our faculty will be happy to take you on as unpaid volunteers or as paid interns. We encourage you to get involved in research before your senior year.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED IN RESEARCH

Browse the FACULTY RESEARCH pages and see what catches your interest. You can also look at the bottom of this page to see who among the faculty is currently looking for undergraduate research help. The next step is very simple: get in touch with the faculty members, via email or by personal appointment, whose research you are interested in. Simply ask them if they have a research project for you at the moment. Sometimes, they may already have enough undergrads working in their group. Don’t be discouraged, but simply contact another faculty until you find a research project that interests you.

In addition, there is more you can do, especially if you are looking for summer research opportunities:

  1. Check the Office for Undergraduate Research (OUR) database.
  2. Learn about National Science Foundation REU programs and apply.
  3. Look into possible research projects through ACC universities.
  4. Consider applying to National Laboratory summer research opportunities:

Department of Energy
National Institute of Standards and Technology (Gaithersburg)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (Boulder)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Sandia National Laboratory
National Institutes of Health
NASA
Space Telescope Science Institute
Air Force Research Laboratory

Funding Opportunities:
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
SMART
SMART Transfer
NC Space Grant

Doing a Senior Honors Thesis

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers an undergraduate degree with honors. The Honors Program offers exceptionally well-qualified students an opportunity to perform original research with a faculty member and graduate with an Honors Degree. The general requirements are:

  1. At least a 3.3 overall grade point average (GPA)
  2. At least a 3.4 GPA in physics courses

Students are encouraged to enroll in the Honors program as early as possible. In order to graduate with an Honors degree, the applicant must complete the following:

  1. Complete an original research project that is usually supervised under a faculty member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It is possible to conduct the research project in other departments, but pre-approval is needed.
  2. Register for Physics 691H, 692H for one semester each (a total of 6 credits), with the final semester being the term you plan to graduate. You must get your project approved by the department chair well before the last day of registration of the first term of thesis work.
  3. Complete an honors thesis and present it as a public seminar. An examination will be conducted by a committee that is usually composed of three faculty members including the applicant’s research advisor. About one month before the deadline you should decide on the date of the talk and reserve a room. A few days before the talk you should share a working copy of the thesis with the committee.
  4. Submit a formal copy of the thesis meeting the guidelines, before the deadline. After completion, register the thesis.

See the following links for guidelines and deadlines:

http://honorscarolina.unc.edu/current-students/honors-thesis-and-undergraduate-research/honors-thesis/

http://honorscarolina.unc.edu/current-students/faculty-staff/honors-thesis/

For further questions, please contact Professor Dmitri Khveshchenko, the departmental coordinator for the honors program.

Undergrad Research Projects

Radioenvironmental studies with a Pairspectrometer

a9r19j1wur_nidunq_4jgThe image shows two radiation detectors designed to detect nuclear radiation in time coincidence. Such an apparatus is called a pairspectrometer. It is used at the moment to detect radioactivity in meteorite fragments found in North Carolina, but can also be used for other radioisotope studies [ground water, soil, diet, food.]. Doing research with this apparatus will teach you about: radiation detectors [similar to the equipment used by radiologists], electronic signal processing, data acquisition and analysis, computer simulations, and some cool science. Contact: Prof. Christian Iliadis (iliadis@unc.edu).