Beyond the Classroom
Undergraduate research has been an integral part of the UE Department of Physics since the 1980's. Funds are available to students for conference travel to present research findings. It is the department's belief that participating in undergraduate research will give students better insights into current fields of study in physics and will provide a solid stepping stone for going to graduate school.
The University of Evansville supports undergraduate research through the competitive UExplore Undergraduate Research Program offering grants to support projects.
REU Experiences through the National Science Foundation (NSF)
The NSF is the primary organization responsible for the coordination and funding of the various Research Experience for Undergraduates programs. Many experiences are available for 5-10 weeks in the summer. Most physics majors take advantage of the REU experience. Visit the National Science Foundation's website for more information.
Students have the opportunity to work one-on-one as research assistants with our faculty. Below are just a few examples of what research occurs at UE:
Dr. Stamm in Biophysics: Professor Stamm's research is in protein structure and dynamics. Stamm is currently studying the structure and interactions of a cardiac muscle protein, phospholamban. Phospholamban is the key regulator of muscle relaxation in the heart and is thus a crucial target for therapeutic agents aimed at treating heart failure. Stamm has developed methods for producing and purifying large amounts of phospholamban, a necessary step for studying its molecular structure. High-resolution experiments involving electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) techniques are being used to test and refine atomic level models of phospholamban's molecular interactions. Deep insight into this important clinical question is gained when these experimental results are coupled with modern computer simulations. While integration with Computational Physics (Phys 340) is clear, this research is primarily applied to the interdisciplinary course in Biological Physics (Phys 322). Research involving molecular dynamics experiments and simulations accentuates the principles mastered in this and complementary courses in each of the natural sciences and leads to a wide variety of possible student projects.
Dr. Stamm has also worked with students over three summers to narrow down and improve electronic sources of error in plasma impedance measurements of Earth's ionosphere from sounding rockets in collaboration with NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. These sources of error have been implemented in improved computational models of the electron density and temperature.
Dr. Jeffrey Braun in Quantum Physics: Dr. Braun is initiating a new area of experimental investigations in the quantum behavior of correlated photons. Quantum entanglement, bi-photon behavior, and non-locality all play a role in this exciting new area. Using parametric down-conversion, deep-blue photons from a laser are split into a pair of near-IR photons. These photons are correlated with each other, and the quantum mechanical state of one photon can be affected by measurements made on the other photon, even at a large distance.
Dr. Nicholas Harmon in Solid State Physics: Dr. Harmon's research is in solid state physics. Harmon researches how the intrinsic magnetic nature of electrons (spin) can be used for the betterment of existing technology and the genesis of completely new technologies. Recently, a student worked with Dr. Harmon to model charge and spin diffusion in organic semiconductors. This work is relevant for organic solar cells, light-emitting diodes, and spin valves. Another student calculated spin-dependent recombination currents in electronic devices. Students working with Dr. Harmon will gain experience in computer coding which will serve as a useful skill in all fields of science.
The University of Evansville stresses the value of real-world experience in helping students prepare for their future careers and educational goals. Internship placements are available at the Chancellor Center for Oncology and the Evansville Cancer Center for students interested in medical physics.