Granular Sand by Julien Chopin, PhD Candidate in Physics

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

We believe it important for undergraduates to make an early transition from classroom work to the more direct and active learning process involved in research. Research in the department is broadly concentrated in the experimental and theoretical study of condensed matter physics—a term for the physics of solids, glasses and liquids. Experimental work focuses on magnetism and on superconductivity. Theoretical research includes computer simulation studies of phase transitions and studies on the free electron laser. Several members of the department also are involved in interdisciplinary research on environmental problems and on physics education.

Although the stereotype of a scientist might be that of a solitary worker working late in his laboratory at night, in reality, the norm is that of collaborative research involving men and women scientists from all over the world. Members of the physics department regularly collaborate with colleagues at other institutions. Currently, theoretical work is being done in collaboration with individuals at Boston University, Kalamazoo College, MIT, Princeton University, UConn Health Center, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Experimental work is being done in collaboration with colleagues at AT&T Bell Laboratories, the University of Connecticut, the University of Eindhoven, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northeastern University, Université de Paris-Sud, and Washington State University. As a result of early research involvement, frequent contact with diverse visitors and collaborative work with others, undergraduate physics majors at Clark acquire a high degree of exposure and self-reliance.

How soon you become involved in research depends on your level of ability and your motivation. Most majors start after their fifth or sixth semester, but an occasional sophomore or first-year student starts earlier. The earlier you begin, the more rewarding your project will be. It is common for our undergraduates to publish papers in referred journals along with their faculty advisor and other collaborators. Research groups:

  • organic superconductivity and high magnetic fields
  • novel magnets
  • statistical mechanics and computer simulations
  • quantum effects in magnetic chains
  • plasma instabilities
  • physics education
  • complex matter and nonlinear physics
  • biological physics