Your senior research project should be the capstone of your undergraduate education. One of the benefits of our small department is that you have the opportunity to be directly involved in research with a faculty member. Your research will allow you to experience firsthand how the frontiers of scientific knowledge are expanded.
During your junior year (or earlier if you want to get a head start), you should speak with one or more faculty members about their research and how you might fit into their programs as an undergraduate student. Based on this information, determine the projects/faculty with whom you would be most interested in studying and inquire if there are openings for you to work with them.
You can take Physics 300 for up to 6 credits. Figure on at least 3 hours of research per week per credit hour. Students involved in experimental research will need to arrange for large blocks of time to spend in the laboratory. If you would like the opportunity to perform some really in-depth research, we recommend that you plan to take Physics 300 in both the Fall and Spring semesters and complete a full-year research project.
One semester research projects: A draft of a 10-20 page research paper is due one week before the end of classes. A 15 minute oral presentation should be completed by the end of the study period, and the completed paper is due on the last day of finals (or earlier in the finals period, at the mentor's discretion).
Full year research projects: During the first semester, a draft of a 10-20 page progress report and research plan is due one week before the end of classes. The final paper is due on the last day of finals (or earlier in the finals period, at the mentor's discretion). During the second semester, a draft of the full thesis of at least 20 pages is due one week before the last day of classes. The title and abstract from the theses will be used to advertise the research presentations. These 20 minute talks typically take place on the second study day. The completed thesis is due on the last day of finals (or earlier in the finals period, at the mentor's discretion).
All thesis and progress reports will be evaluated by two members of the faculty, the research mentor and a second reader selected in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Second readers must be chosen by the middle of the semester and ordinarily are faculty from a different research area in physics who are not serving as a research mentor for other senior research projects. The final grade for the course will be determined by the quality of research performed, as determined by the research mentor, and by the quality of the written work, as graded by both the mentor and the second reader.
Note: The draft of the full thesis and the oral presentation are also important components of the faculty decision to award Honors in Physics.
Here is a more detailed description of what is expected, as well as some hints for effective communication.
Oral presentation guidelines
Guidelines for scientific writing
Deparment home page
Direct questions or comments to the Director of Undergraduate Studies