All undergraduate physics majors are encouraged to participate in activities which enrich their major program: research, study-abroad, internships, or service learning. Research experiences are valued by students interested in pursuing graduate programs in physics or closely-related field. Our undergraduates have attended conferences, presented papers and posters, and co-authored journal articles. Utilize this page to identify research opportunities in physics at UF and around the world.
Preparing for a Productive Research Experience
Regardless of the research avenue you wish to undertake, research is a time-intensive undertaking by all stakeholders. Students should think of a research experience as an apprenticeship, where you are making a significant commitment to a research program of your time and talents in exchange for specialized training and instruction. Research professors may prefer to work with students who have completed specific coursework prior to starting a research experience. Students with the following dispositions find their efforts rewarded with a sense of accomplishment:
- Discipline - Spending a minimum of 10 hours a week productively on a research project requires discipline and focus. Some research professors may require multiple semester time commitment, or a regular weekly schedule.
- Commitment - Successful students see their commitment through to the end, even if it means they need to continue working after the semester is over, or after graduation, to complete a paper or give a presentation that was agreed upon with the research group.
- Curiosity and Motivation - Successful students are clearly personally interested in the projects they are undertaking. This interest spurs questions of exploration and motivates future direction.
- Adaptable - The nature of exploratory research can be unpredictable and result in tangential course corrections motivated by the physics.
- Integrity and Sound Ethics - Violating ethical standards in representing data or results is the quickest end to any possible career in scientific research. Students should hold themselves accountable to the highest standards of academic integrity regardless of external or internal pressures for success.
Finding Available Research Experiences
The first step towards identifying opportunities for research is to explore the work of physics faculty from the physics department website. Identify several research professors whose work you find exciting and read some published articles to gain some insight as to what you may be working on. Attend a research group seminar to learn more about active research areas in the field. Next, carefully consider your realistic and sustainable time commitment to a research project. Finally, send email to faculty expressing your interest, and ask if there are positions available within the research group. It may take a few email attempts to receive a response, as faculty wear several hats and emails can get buried. You may also consider reaching out to a few graduate students working in the targeted research group, as they may know of available positions, or when occupied positions may become available. Also, talk to SPS members and Junior/Senior physics majors about how they became active in research and how they are able to sustain a commitment to their project while juggling coursework. SPS typically includes a meeting focusing on undergraduate research each year.
Physics majors are in high demand! Also seek out opportunities in closely-related fields outside of the department. Consider research opportunities in Nuclear Engineering, Medicine, Chemistry, Astronomy, Materials Science, etc.
(Center for Undergraduate Research Board of Students) hosts several
workshops each semester on pursuing research, applying to graduate
school, making research posters, and more. The group also provides peer
advising as well to assist with getting started in undergraduate
UF research projects/opportunities
Physics students often identify summer break as a time to engage in research. UF physics hosts two specific NSF initiatives for both UF students, and undergraduates from other universities. And the university and affiliated labs host other opportunities for undergraduates to gain research experience.
- Condensed Matter
and Materials Physics REU program at UF
Traditional REU summer program in experimental/theoretical/computational investigations of condensed matter and materials physics at UF. Includes workshops on developing communication skills, exploring graduate programs, career opportunities, and visits to nearby labs.
- International REU
in Gravitational Waves
Exposing students to gravitational physics research at labs in Europe and Australasia.
Students may be placed at the NHMF Lab in Tallahassee, the Magnet Lab at UF, or the Magnet Lab's pulse facility at Los Alamos.
- Summer Undergraduate
Undergraduates planning to enroll in a Ph.D. program at UF with a planned start 12 months following the end of the research experience.
- McNair Scholars Program
US DOE sponsored program for undergraduate students from low-income/first-generation and underrepresented backgrounds in pursuit of a Ph.D. Scholars work on research during summer and the academic year.
Academic Year Programs
Students who have sufficient time to commit to research during the academic year may also apply for support from the following programs:
- Center for Condensed Matter
Sciences (CCMS) Undergraduate Fellowships
Fellowships awarded for semesters to undergraduate students enrolled on Gainesville campus working for a member of CCMS in research related to activities of the Center.
Two students nominated annually by the physics department to receive support to work with CLAS faculty on research. Support includes stipend for fall and spring semesters, with separate funds available for travel support.
Program for early undergraduate students (Freshman or Sophomore status) to work with an identified faculty member for two semesters, starting in the Spring Term.
Scholars Program (USP)
A competitive capstone program providing stipend to undergraduate students completing a full research project under the guidance of a faculty member. Students may not be graduating prior to May of the following year.
Research Opportunities at other universities in the US and Abroad
- NSF Research Experiences
for Undergraduates (REU)
Students receive stipends and possible travel and housing support for summer research experience at a US or foreign host institution. Students must be citizens or permanent residents of the US.
- Summer Research at CalTech
Students collaborate with a potential mentor to define a 10-week summer research project and receive a stipend.
Research Scholars Program (not to be confused with USP)
Students selected for the four year University Research Scholars program may take a research course, IDS 2935, where students are guided by faculty in small group settings on research projects. Physics faculty have, in the past, offered a section of IDS 2935 to support freshman physics majors interested in engaging in guided research.
- PHY 4911
Undergraduate Research in Physics
Upon recommendation by academic advisors and research faculty, students may enroll in this course worth variable credit (0-3) and formally incorporate a research experience into coursework appearing on a transcript and applied towards degree completion.
Seniors participating in research within the department are encouraged to submit a senior thesis, allowing seniors to qualify for graduating with High or Highest Honors, depending on cumulative GPA. The department annually awards the Outstanding Undergraduate Senior Thesis Award.
Undergraduate Student Opportunities for Presenting at Conference
The Center for Undergraduate Research provides workshops focused on developing scientific communication skills, including writing and presenting posters. Here are opportunities targeting undergraduate physics students wishing to share their research experience at a professional meeting
- SPS sessions at APS March and April meetings
- SPS poster session at National AAPT Winter and Summer Meetings
for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP)
- UF Undergraduate Research Symposium
- Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium
- SESAPS Fall Meetings