Student Projects

Student Research Projects

Over the last 15 years, approximately 90% of the students that have graduated with physics degrees have been involved in some sort of research or internship experience during their undergraduate careers.  These experiences encompass a variety of research and internship projects.  These projects can be roughly categorized as follows:

Research with the physics faculty:  Varies with external funding levels, but approximately 8-10 students have been supported per summer for the last decade.  These experiments can be oriented toward either scientific or engineering topics depending on student interests.   

  • Particle Astrophysics: Student projects in particle astrophysics have performed data analysis on dark matter data taken by the DarkSide experiment and prototype data from the DUNE neutrino experiment.  The DarkSide analysis has focused on background understanding while the DUNE work has been on detector performance.
  • Nuclear Physics: Students work on a variety of projects related to the detection of particles and the analysis of data from relativistic heavy ion collisions. These can be tailored to the interest of the students. Engineering students have worked on silicon diode detectors (silicon minipad and silicon photomultipliers) for both the PHENIX and sPHENIX experiments. Students have participated in the analysis of data from the PHENIX data looking at high-energy particles emerging from the collisions between deuterons and gold nuclei in an attempt to measure the strong nuclear force. Students learn many transferable skills including programming, statistics, graphical representation of data, and scientific communication practices.
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics:  These students have most often worked on coherent control studies involving ultrafast laser pulses and molecules.  Student projects might involve developing computer control codes for automation of experimental tasks, data analysis projects, optical design and characterization, and modest theoretical efforts. 

Research in other Augustana departments:  These opportunities have traditionally been in the Chemistry, Computer Science, or Biology departments and often involve students that are double-majoring in the other discipline. 

Off-campus Research:  Many students take advantage of different research opportunities around the country in the summer.  Our students have done work in physics, astronomy, chemistry, materials science, biology, medicine and many kinds of engineering at places such as Arizona State, University of Massachusetts / Massachusetts General Hospital, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, University of Minnesota, UCLA, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, University of Texas / M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Oklahoma, various NASA centers (Glenn, White Sands), Michigan State University, Drexel University, Baylor University, Penn State University, the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and other similar examples.

Off-campus Internships:  This work typically involves engineering, but can also involve other topics such as finance or software development.  Examples include the South Dakota Department of Transportation, the City of Sioux Falls, Avery Weigh-Tronics, Citibank, USGS Eros Data Center, the South Dakota Investment Council, Daktronics, Raven Industries, Peter Kiewit Construction, Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services, and GeoTek Engineering & Testing Services, among other examples.