Summer is a great time for research!

Our students are using physics to explore, experiment, and analyze the world around them. What do you want to discover?

Summer 2016

Check back for more updates!


Elise Rimsa

"This summer I have been working on a project with Dr. Andeen, Dr. Tharp, and Ryan Howell as part of the Cosmic Ray group for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a neutrino telescope in the ice at the South Pole. When high energy astrophysical particles hit a nuclei in the atmosphere, a cosmic ray air shower is created as particles decay, collide, and travel towards the earth. When these particles pass through a scintillator, a material which luminesces when this occurs, a Silicon Photomultiplier (SiPM) converts this photon light into an electrical signal for us to see. We have been testing the SiPM, a proposed photomultiplier for the surface detector for IceCube. The goal of our current project is to take data from the SiPM in order to characterize the different types of electrical signals that photons create and to distinguish the number of photons in each type of signal."



Ryan Howell

Ryan is also working with Dr. Andeen and Dr. Tharp on cosmic ray research. Here is his take on it: "We have an end goal of making prototype particle detectors for the IceCube Observatory at the South Pole. These detectors are called 'scintillators' and will detect cosmic ray particles called 'muons'. These muons come from high energy collisions in the atmosphere from super fast particles that find their origin in Supernova across the galaxy. Our job is to test and characterize a new photomultiplier that is cheaper and more precise than what is already at the South Pole so that it can accurately detect these particles."







Brad Cole

"I started this summer out by attending a workshop for the Very Large Array in New Mexico, where I learned about radio astronomy and the various techniques used in gathering data. The workshop was loaded with content but was definitely a great learning experience. Now, I am analyzing data with Dr. Stockdale concerning radio sources in the galaxy M83. The goal of this research is to see what kinds of things are causing the radio emission that we have detected. Eventually, this type of research should help us examine star formation within galaxies and help tell us about the way galaxies evolve."






Alex Garces - "This summer I got the opportunity to work under Dr. Bennett, the head of biophysics at Marquette University; specifically working with his post doc, Dr. Stein. The goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of an enzyme called "Nitrile Hydrotase," or NHase for short. Understanding this enzyme is important because if we can understand the mechanisms behind how it catalyzes substrates, we may be able to make it useful in the synthesis of certain plastics, or as a bio-mediation agent to clean up certain Nitrile based pesticides. As you may be able to tell, this research falls under the category of biochemistry, but there is physics behind it, such as Michaelis Menten Kinetics. My goal this summer is to simply learn as much as I can, as well as experience what bio-physics research entails, to help me decide if this kind of research is something that I would want to be doing in the future.​"


Sebastian Konewko - "This summer I am at ETH Zurich, where I am doing some low energy particle physics. I am particularly concerned with low energy, or slow, positrons. Positrons are antimatter electrons and they are pertinent in all sorts of physics and engineering fields that range from nuclear physics to material science. I am working to experimentally determine the efficiency of certain slow positron moderators, specifically annealed tungsten meshes. By maximizing the number of these emitted particles, one will be able to form a more intense beam of slow positrons to be used in any further experiment or application."


Ryan Schumm - "The research I have been doing this summer [with Dr. Kunz] involves computational and theoretical modeling of ferromagnetic spiral systems. These systems have applications to random access memory in hard drives as well as magneto-resistance sensors. We are working with a company to develop a potentiometer utilizing the physics of our magnetic system."


Noah Greenberg - with Dr. Kunz


"This summer I studied artificial spin ice . These systems are basically nanomagnets laid out in a certain geometrical arrangement. A single array can have billions of magnets. Characteristically, these systems have residual entropy and degenerate ground states as well as multiple different phases that dictate ordering. While these systems can be grown on a substrate and manipulated with thermal fluctuations or alternating currents, they can also be modeled accurately with Monte Carlo simulations. I wrote a program in MATLAB that models these systems. Using the program I was able to explore the effect of absent magnets on the system."






"​Hexagonal Arrangement of Permalloy Nanomagnets (Artificial Spin Ice)"



Anthony Francisco - with Dr. Bennett



Summer 2015

Summer 2014

Summer 2013

Summer 2012






Physics Department Mission Statement

The Physics Department is committed to excellence in undergraduate physics education and embraces the Ignation ideal of cura personalis, or "care for the whole person." The Department is a community of faculty, staff and students: Faculty advance the frontiers of physics in both research and education, staff contribute their expertise in facilitating all endeavors of the department, and students participate in learning and scholarship with the guidance of the faculty.