Undergraduate Research Opportunities 2020-21

Active Research in the Yale Physics Department

Astrophysics and Cosmology

Charles Baltay, Reina Maruyama, Daisuke Nagai, Laura Newburgh, Nikhil Padmanabhan, Meg Urry

Atomic, Molecular and Optics

Jack Harris, Steve Lamoreaux, David Moore, Nir Navon


Joe Howard, Ben Machta, Simon Mochrie, John Murray, Michael Murrell, Corey O’Hern, Alison Sweeney

Condensed Matter Experiment

Sean Barrett, Eduardo DaSilva Neto, Jack Harris, Yu He, Simon Mochrie, Peter Schiffer

Condensed Matter Theory

Yoram Alhassid, Meng Cheng, Steve Girvin, Leonid Glazman, Ben Machta, Corey O’Hern, Diana Qiu, Nicholas Read, R. Shankar

Gravitational Physics

Walter Goldberger, Vincent Monchrief

Nuclear Physics Experiment

Helen Caines, John Harris, Karsten Heeger, Steve Lamoreaux, Reina Maruyama, David Moore

Nuclear Physics Theory

Yoram Alhassid, Francesco Iachello

Particle Physics Experiment

Keith Baker, Charles Baltay, Sarah Demers, Bonnie Fleming, Karsten Heeger, Reina Maruyama, David Moore, Paul Tipton

Particle Physics Theory

Thomas Appelquist, Walter Goldberger, David Poland, Witold Skiba

Quantum Physics

Yoram Alhassid, Sean Barrett, Steven Girvin

Charles Baltay

Contact: Charles Baltay (charles.baltay@yale.edu)

URL: https://hep.yale.edu/research/la-silla-quest-variablity-survey

Research Area: Astrophysics, Cosmology

Research Opportunity Type: In lab and Remote

Research Opportunity: Dark Energy (Type 1a Supernovae, galaxy redshift surveys), Dark Matter (RR Lyrae), low surface brightness galaxies.


Helen Caines

(c) Brookhaven National Laboratory

Contact: Helen Caines (helen.caines@yale.edu)

URL: https://rhig.physics.yale.edu/

Research Area: Nuclear physics

Research Opportunity Type: Remote

Research Opportunity: Understanding jet properties and how they differ from proton-proton to heavy-ion collisions - we will look at real data and simulations to understand how particle formation differs when protons are collided compared to when ions (such as lead or gold) collide.


Steven Girvin

Contact: Steve Girvin (steven.girvin@yale.edu)

URL: https://girvin.sites.yale.edu/

Research Area: Quantum Information Theory

Research Opportunity Type: Remote

Research Opportunity: I am on leave in the fall but may have one slot for an undergraduate interested in quantum error correction, quantum simulations with superconducting qubit devices, and/or quantum computer science.  Projects will be theoretical/numerical and will be entirely remote.


Yu He

Contact: Yu He (yu.he@yale.edu)

URL: https://appliedphysics.yale.edu/yu-he

Research Area: Experimental Condensed Matter Physics (Superconductivity)

Research Opportunity Type: In lab and Remote

Research Opportunity: Energy gap extraction from angle-resolved photoemission (ARPES) spectrum - the student will learn to i) simulate an energy-momentum-resolved spectrum of a superconductor, ii) quantify both intrinsic and extrinsic effects such as shot noise, and electron lifetime in the spectral function, iii) describe the spectrum and extract microscopic superconducting parameters with modern low-energy effective models, iv) evaluate the parameter space where such models prevail/fail - and write a manuscript recommending a set of improved operation standards to the field. In-person data collection on real materials could be, but is currently not, provisioned for this academic year, contingent upon the university COVID-19 policies.


Karsten Heeger

Contact: Karsten Heeger (karsten.heeger@yale.edu)

URL: http://heegerlab.yale.edu

Research Area: experimental neutrino physics

Research Opportunity Type: In Lab and Remote

Research Opportunity: To come


Joe Howard

Contact: Joe Howard (Joe.howard@yale.edu)

URL: https://howardlab.yale.edu

Research Area: Biophysics

Research Opportunity Type: In lab and Remote

Research Opportunity: 1. Structure of branched neuronal dendrites. 2. Cutting microtubules.


John Murray

Contact: John Murray (john.murray@yale.edu)

URL: http://murraylab.yale.edu/

Research Area: Computational neuroscience

Research Opportunity Type: In lab and Remote

Research Opportunity: Computational modeling of neural dynamics and cognitive computations, analysis of neural and behavioral data.


Michael Murrell

Contact: Michael Murrell (michael.murrell@yale.edu)

URL: livingmatter.yale.edu

Research Area: Biophysics, Active Matter, Soft Matter, Synthetic Biology

Research Opportunity Type: Remote

Research Opportunity: In the laboratory for living matter, we want to understand the physical principles that promote life. In doing so, we investigate how living systems regulate their flow of energy, and how that relates to the successful completion of biological behaviors. In parallel, we build mechanical models of the cell, using purified components to reproduce biological behaviors in a non-living system. Our group is experimental, computational and theoretical. We are currently looking for students to help with quantitative methods.


Daisuke Nagai

Contact: Daisuke Nagai (daisuke.nagai@yale.edu)

URL: http://www.astro.yale.edu/nagai/Research.html

Research Area: Cosmology & Astrophysics

Research Opportunity Type: Remote

Research Opportunity: Our research group will likely have an online research opportunity to explore “a Deep Learning Approach for Cosmology with Galaxy Clusters”. This project involves applications of machine learning techniques to analyze microwave and/or X-ray images of galaxy clusters extracted from cosmological hydrodynamical simulations. Previous experiences (in research and/or class-room settings) with python programming, machine learning and/or data analyses will be helpful. Background in cosmology and astrophysics will also be valuable, but not required.


Nir Navon

Contact: Nir Navon (nir.navon@yale.edu)

URL: https://uqm.yale.edu/

Research Area: Ultracold Quantum Matter / Quantum simulations

Research Opportunity Type: in lab and remote

Research Opportunity:
Title: Arbitrary waveform generator for controlling acousto-optic deflectors (AODs) in an optical tweezer array experiment
Description: The student will use remote procedure calls (RPC) to interface between an experimental control software (Artiq) and a PCIE-based arbitrary waveform generator (AWG). Furthermore, the student will use the AWG to drive the acousto-optic deflector (AOD) for manipulating the optical tweezers. This project will involve programming, electronics, and optics.

Title: Laser system for tunable imaging of fermionic lithium at high magnetic fields
Description: One of our system routinely produces quantum gases of ultracold fermions. One appealing feature of this system is the possibility to tune interatomic interactions using an external magnetic field. However, the atomic transitions used for imaging the atoms are detuned by the Zeeman effect; covering a large range of frequencies is thus challenging. The student will set up a new laser that will be locked to a reference laser (locked to an atomic spectroscopy cell) via a tunable offset lock to allow for imaging the atoms across a wide range of magnetic fields. The project will involve lasers, optics, electronics and simple atomic physics calculations.


Corey O’Hern

Contact: Corey O’Hern (corey.ohern@yale.edu)

URL: https://jamming.research.yale.edu

Research Area: Soft Matter, Biophysics

Research Opportunity Type: In Lab and Remote

Research Opportunity: (1) Unraveling the fundamental mechanisms of nanoscale deformation in bulk metallic glasses; (2) Enhancing protein structure-function predictions through the elimination of decoys in molecular dynamics simulations; (3) Collaborative Research: Experimental and computational studies of flow and clogging of deformable particles under confinement ; (4) Biological self-assembly: Tissue mechanics of the spongy mesophyll in flowers.


Nikhil Padmanabhan

Contact: Nikhil Padmanabhan (nikhil.padmanabhan@yale.edu)

URL: https://physics.yale.edu

Research Area: Astrophysics/Cosmology

Research Opportunity Type: Remote

Research Opportunity: My research interests straddle observational and theoretical cosmology. Possible project areas include analysing cosmological simulations and developing new analysis tools.


Diana Qiu

Contact: Diana Qiu (diana.qiu@yale.edu)

URL: https://qiugroup.yale.edu/

Research Area: Condensed Matter Theory and Computation

Research Opportunity Type: In Lab and Remote

Research Opportunity: Electronic and optical properties of novel low-dimensional materials -  the student will use computational methods to calculate and analyze the bandstructure and optical absorption spectrum of low-dimensional materials and nanostructures.


Peter Schiffer

Contact: Peter Schiffer (peter.schiffer@yale.edu)

URL: https://schifferlab.yale.edu/

Research Area: Experimental Condensed Matter Physics (Magnetic Nanostructures)

Research Opportunity Type: In lab and Remote

Research Opportunity: Recent research in our group has focused on the study of frustrated magnetic nanostructures known as  ‘artificial spin ice’, composed of arrays of thousands of precisely arranged nanometer-scale magnets.   Undergraduate projects typically focus on data analysis and computational efforts, but also have included the design, assembly, and operation of experimental apparatus.  We do not expect to have new opportunities available in Fall 2020, but possibly in Spring 2021.  Please feel free to contact Prof. Schiffer if interested.


Meg Urry

Contact: Meg Urry (meg.urry@yale.edu)

URL: https://urrylab.yale.edu

Research Area: Astrophysics

Research Opportunity Type: Remote

Research Opportunity: Projects involve multiwavelength data analysis and theoretical work on galaxies and active galactic nuclei, to determine emission mechanisms and other properties. Example of a specific project: use software to fit spectral energy distributions (e.g., X-Cigale, SED3Fit, AGNFitter) of AGN and galaxies in Stripe 82 survey. Other examples: Explore machine learning tools for analyzing SEDs or AGN host galaxies.