Undergraduate Research

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Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics or Engineering Physics are encouraged to consider an undergraduate research position on campus.  Students in our program who choose to participate in research normally choose research projects in the Department of Physics, but research in other fields such as Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Geological Sciences, and Medicine are also possible.

Resources for Getting Started

The following research fields within the Department of Physics are available for Physics and Engineering Physics majors:

  • Astrophysics
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • Biophysics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • High Energy Physics
  • Medical Physics
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Particle Physics
  • Physics Education

For a description of research being done by physics faculty who often hire undergraduate students, go to the Physics Research Summary page

Students interested in undergraduate research in the Department of Physics are encouraged to read the How to get Involved in Undergraduate Physics Research guide.  Feel free to contact the Physics advisors with any questions regarding undergraduate research.

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Established in January 2006, the Undergraduate Research Office helps students pursue research opportunities at OSU. Their website contains useful information about research opportunities both on and off campus and information about funding.  The URO also holds informational session and workshops that can help you get involved in research or enhance your current research experience.  Additional information can be found on the URO Website.

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If you are already involved in undergraduate research and you would like to earn course credit, please follow the below instructions.

  1. Confirm with your research advisor that you have their permission to sign up for the research for credit course.
  2. Figure out which course you will sign up for.  Non-honors students will take Physics 4998 and Honors students will take Physics 4998H.  (Note: if you are not doing research in physics, but instead in Astronomy, Math, Chemistry, etc. you will sign up for the research course in that department).
  3. Figure out how many credit hours you'd like to take.  We recommend signing up for 1 credit hour of research credit for every 3 hours a week you work in the lab.  But, the decision is ultimately up to you and your research advisor.
  4. Figure out how you'd like to be graded.  The default grading scale for Physics 4998 and 4998H is A-E, which does affect your GPA.  If you and your research advisor would rather you take the course as Pass/Non-Pass, please indicate this prior to asking your advisor to enroll you.
  5. Email Lindsey Thaler (thaler.21@osu.edu) and ask her to enroll you in research credit.  Please include the following information:
    1. Which class you'd like.  If you are not a senior working on a senior thesis, you will enroll in 4998 or 4998H (for honors students).  If you are a senior working on a senior thesis, you will enroll in Physics 4999 or 4999H (honors students)
    2. Which professor you are working with
    3. How many credit hours you want
    4. If you want to take the course as graded or pass/non-pass.
  6. Lindsey will respond to your email and copy your research professor after the class has been added to your schedule.

Deadlines for Enrolling in Research Credit

The last day to enroll in a research course is the 2nd Friday of each term.  Deadlines are indicated below.

Summer Term 2019 - Friday May 10, 2019 at 5pm
Autumn Semester 2019 - Friday August 30, 2019 at 5pm
Spring Semester 2020 - Friday January 17, 2020 at 5pm

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OSU Research Programs and Scholarships

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The Department of Physics Summer Research Program is open to current OSU physics and engineering physics majors. This program is 10 weeks during the summer and requires at least 30 hours of research per week. The application is available early January through mid-March.

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The OSU Undergradute Research Program in Astrophysics is managed by the Department of Astronomy and is primarily for juniors interested in graduate study in astrophysics, although exceptional sophomores may be considered. Applications are available January-February.

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OSU Center for Emergent Materials (CEM) Summer Research Program is open to all students to apply. Application deadline is February 15.

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Stone Lab's Research Experience for Undergraduates is a competitive comprehensive research internship that attracts students from across the country to learn how to conduct real, in-the-field research alongside top scientists. Over six weeks, participants use scientific equipment, explore the Lake Erie islands, and collect important data to help solve the most pressing issues for the Great Lakes region.

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OSU College of Engineering Summer Research Scholarship (open to Engineering students, including Engineering Physics majors) aims to provide $3,500 scholarships to students who are participating in his/her first research experience during Summer Term.  Students who have just begun participating in undergraduate research within Engineering during the current academic year may be eligible to receive this scholarship as well, but priority will be given to students who have not yet been significantly involved in a research experience.  Students who receive the scholarship will be responsible for working 30 hours per week for a total of 10 weeks during Summer Term.

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Arts and Sciences Research Scholarships (open to all Arts and Sciences students, including Physics majors). Multiple scholarships are available. See website for more information.

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Funding from OSU's Undergraduate Research Office available for all students to apply. Multiple scholarships and funding options are available. See website for more information.

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External Summer Research and Internship Programs

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An internship integrates career-related experience into an undergraduate education through participation in planned, supervised work. Internships are usually paid, full-time positions that take place off campus during the summer but this varies depending on the position.

Students interested in participating in an internship program can get started by contacting Career Services and attending campus career fairs.

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For information about study abroad options, including taking classes abroad, contact OSU's Education Abroad Office or browse their website to see a list of programs available.

Additionally, physics and engineering physics majors can participate in research abroad programs such as the DAAD RISE (Germany), STEM Summer Research Programs Abroad (England, Ireland, Spain, etc.), and the Summer Research Experience at CERN.

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Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs are funding by the National Science Foundation and provides students with funding and support to do research at a university or national laboratory over the summer.

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Many Physics and Engineering Physics majors participate in a summer research program at a national laboratory over the summer. A summary of some of those options can be found on the National and International Summer Research Options page.

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Graduation with Research Distinction

Graduation with research distinction in [research field] recognizes those students who demonstrate excellence in the study of a discipline both through major course work and by completing an independent research project.  This distinction does appear on the diploma.  

If you're interested in graduating with research distinction, or if you're interested in getting more information about the process, please contact the following person based on your program:

Honors Physics Majors: Please schedule an appointment with Dr. Joanna Spanos by calling (614) 292-5104 or by going to the Arts and Sciences honors counseling office in room 3180 Smith Lab.  You can also find information on the ASC Honors webpage.

Non-Honors Physics Majors: Please read this document for information regarding graduating with research distinction. If you have any questions, please schedule an appointment with Mr. Ed Quinn by calling the Arts and Sciences Advising Office at (614) 292-6961.

Honors and Non-honors Engineering Physics Majors: Please contact Mr. Mike Knisley at knisley.33@osu.edu.  You can also find more information on the College of Engineering webpage.

Please note that the rules and processes for research distinction are handled at the college level (not the department level), so Dr. Perry and Ms. Thaler will be unable to answer questions about research distinction.