Undergraduate Research

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. 

The following research topics 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 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 How to get Involved in Undergraduate Physics Research.  Feel free to contact the Physics advisors with any questions regarding undergraduate research.

Research for Credit

If you'd like to earn credit for your research, 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 their 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 sign you up.
  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 sign up for a research course is the second Friday of each term.  Deadlines are indicated below.

Spring Semester 2019 - Friday January 18, 2019 at 5pm
Summer term 2019 - Friday May 10, 2019 at 5pm
Autumn Semester 2019 - Friday August 30, 2019 at 5pm

Summer Research, Internship, and Study Abroad Options

Students may choose to participate in an undergraduate research program, internship, or study abroad program over the summer. Applications are usually available December-March, depending on the program or position.

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 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.

OSU Undergraduate Research Office (URO)

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.