Undergraduate Research & Honors
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:
- Check the Office for Undergraduate Research (OUR) database.
- Learn about National Science Foundation REU programs and apply.
- Look into possible research projects through ACC universities.
- Consider applying to National Laboratory summer research opportunities:
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:
- ≥ 3.3 GPA overall
- ≥ 3.4 GPA in physics & astronomy 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:
Complete an original research project that is usually supervised under a faculty member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Conducting the research project with a faculty member in another department requires justification, and pre-approval by the department honors coordinator is necessary
- Register for Physics 691H, 692H for one semester each (a total of 6 credits), Students beginning the senior honors thesis sequence may be in the second semester of their junior year or the first semester of their senior year. Coursework must be completed in consecutive semesters. Students should always select 3 credit hours when completing an Honors contract. To find your GPA in Physics & Astronomy courses, use https://help.unc.edu/sp and the live chat option. Once you connect with an agent, a ticket is submitted and you should receive a response within 24-48 hours. Please keep in mind you must submit a proposal and learning contract for 691H and 692H separately as they will take place in separate semesters. Please see the steps to completing your proposal and learning contract found here
- 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.
- Submit a formal copy of the thesis meeting the guidelines, before the deadline. After completion, register the thesis.
For further questions, please contact Professor Louise Dolan, the departmental coordinator for the honors program.
Undergrad Research Projects
Radioenvironmental studies with a Pairspectrometer
The 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).