Physics and Astronomy

Research Opportunities

Most physics majors get involved in a physics- or astrophysics-related research experience or an independent project at some point during their time at Oberlin.

A faculty member working with a student in one of the physics labs.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

The natural times to get started are during Oberlin’s winter term or as a special project, research experience, or private reading in the semester (PHYS 451, PHYS 555, PHYS 995 courses); there are usually a dozen different students involved in this way in a given semester.

These experiences can lead to something more substantial, such as a (paid) summer research internship or a yearlong honors project for academic credit and honors recognition at graduation. In a given year, roughly six to 10 majors work during the summer in research, and three to four students participate in the department Honors Program.

Winter Term

Physics and astronomy faculty will consider sponsoring student-initiated experimental or theoretical (reading) projects in areas of physics or astronomy. Faculty members have special interests in the following areas:

Mr. FitzGerald Infrared spectroscopy, hydrogen storage
Ms. Ijiri Magnetic materials, x-ray and neutron scattering, experimental condensed matter physics
Ms. Keller Optics, physics education
Mr. Owen General relativity, numerical relativity, computation, theoretical physics
Mr. Scofield Experimental solid state physics, photovoltaic and wind energy, energy use in buildings
Ms. Scudder Galaxy evolution across cosmic time, galaxy-galaxy interactions, public outreach
Mr. Stalnaker Atomic and molecular physics, nonlinear optics, laser physics
Mr. Stinebring Radio astronomy, pulsars, cosmology, instrumentation, image processing
Mr. Styer Relativity for non-scientists, mini-research projects in theoretical physics