Undergraduate Research


Participating in research is a great way for students to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to real life problems. Research will also allow students to explore specific areas of physics including: biophysics, nanoscience and materials physics, cosmology, particle and astrophysics. 

Step 1: Determine what area you would like to work in

The Department of Physics has four main research areas:

  • Biophysics and Biological Physics - Studies the underlying principles involved in the machinery of living things from the molecular to the cellular level as we search for unifying themes both within and between organisms. Our research is conducted in a multi-disciplinary environment at the interface of physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, computational sciences and nanoscience.
  • Cosmology, Particle and Astrophysics - As leaders in this area, we are researching particle physics universe to present day observables, and to understand the transition from linear physics to the non-linear regime during the formation of structures through observational techniques.
  • Nanoscience and Materials Physics - At the nanometer length scale, materials and structures behave differently, which offers exciting opportunities for scientific discoveries and technological advances. We use the tools of physics to create, probe, and understand new materials and atomic-size structures that will enable future technological breakthroughs.
  • Physics and Society - Physics interacts with society in many important ways. Within the university, the physics department teaches many undergraduate classes to help prepare future engineers and other scientists for their future careers. 

Alternatively, you may seek research opportunities within related units:


Step 2: Explore faculty directory 

Faculty by research area:

Faculty by initiative:

Step 3: Start the conversation

After you have found your area of interest send an email to corresponding faculty to set-up a meeting or utilize our Undergraduate Research Openings listing below. Get helpful tips on sites like WebGuru to prepare yourself for meeting with potential research advisors.


Students who would like to obtain credit for conducting research have the following options:

PHY 495 Project Research - For students who are obtaining a bachelors in physics or biophysics and conducting research with a professor within the Department of Physics.  

PHY 499 Individualized Instruction - Geared toward students who would like a curriculum tailored to their interests. Students who take PHY 499 may be assigned topic specific readings or relevant program applications. 

Steps to enroll in PHY 495 or PHY 499
  1. Secure a faculty advisor that will asign you research projects (PHY 495) or independent study (PHY 499)
  2. Discuss with your faculty advisor how many hours you will be working each week. The credit requirements listed below are based on a Fall/Spring 15 week semester.
  • 1 credit = 4 hours/week 
  • 2 credits = 8 hours/week 
  • 3 credits = 12 hours/week 
  • With your faculty advisor create learning goals and end project expectations.
  • Complete the Undergraduate Research/Individualized Study Reporting Form 
  • The National Science Foundation provides funding for various research opportunities for undergraduates through its REU Sites program. Host institutions will provide students the opportunity to work on research projects. Stipends, housing and travel arrangements may be provided to participants. 

    REU Sites:

    PhysicsEngineering Materials Computer and Information Science and Engineering Chemistry 

    Arizona State University Department of Physics REU 

    The Beckstein Lab offers a ten-week REU research program in computational biophysics for a highly motivated undergraduate student. The student will implement new algorithms for the analysis of biomolecular simulations in MDAnalysis and the new parallel MDAnalysis pmda Python library. Students will receive a $5000 stipend plus an allowance for travel, on-campus housing and a meal plan for this ten-week program. The desired starting date is June 2, 2019 and end date is August 10, 2019. This full time research experience includes work in the lab with a faculty and PhD student mentor at Arizona State University. 

    Forwarded REU Opportunities:


    Conferences provide students with the opportunity to learn about research being conducted by their peers and in some instances provides students  with the ability showcase their own research. 

    Undergraduate Research Symposium 

    Held in April, The Department of Physics provides a forum for undergraduate students majoring in physics to present their research. In addition to gaining valuable communication skills, participating students are eligible to win one of several awards. 

    Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics 

    Provides undergraduate women the opportunity to experience a physics coference, gain information on graduate schools and physics careers, network with like minded individuals and learn about current physics research.

    APS 4 Corners Conference 

    Enables students to particpate and learn about research happening in their region. 

    Next Meeting: October 11-12, 2019  at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, AZ



    Here are a few websites where undergraduates can apply for research scholarships or grants:

    1. Department of Physics Scholarships
    2. National Science Foundation 
    3. NASA Space Grant 
    4. National Institutes of Health