Granular Sand by Julien Chopin, PhD Candidate in Physics

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

We believe it important for undergraduates to make an early transition from classroom work to the more direct and active learning process involved in research. Research in the department is broadly concentrated in the experimental and theoretical study of condensed matter physics—a term for the physics of solids, glasses and liquids. Our experimental research focuses on granular matter, fluid dynamics, applied mechanics, scanning tunneling microscopy, correlated electron systems, superconductivity, and the technology of renewable energy. Our theoretical research includes computational physics, computer simulation studies of phase transitions, and investigating theoretical and computational problems at the interface of physics and biology. Several members of the department also are involved in interdisciplinary research on active matter, environmental problems, physics education, and the technology of renewable energy.

Although the stereotype of a scientist might be that of a solitary worker working late in his laboratory at night, in reality, the norm is that of collaborative research involving men and women scientists from all over the world. Members of the physics department regularly collaborate with colleagues at other institutions. As a result of early research involvement, frequent contact with diverse visitors and collaborative work with others, undergraduate physics majors at Clark acquire a high degree of exposure and self-reliance.

How soon you become involved in research depends on your level of ability and your motivation. Most majors start after their fifth or sixth semester, but an occasional sophomore or first-year student starts earlier. The earlier you begin, the more rewarding your project will be. It is common for our undergraduates to publish papers in referred journals along with their faculty advisor and other collaborators. Research groups:

  • organic superconductivity and high magnetic fields
  • statistical mechanics and computer simulations
  • computational physics
  • complex matter and nonlinear physics
  • biological physics
  • technology of renewable energy