Every summer the Department of Physics & Astronomy typically has 8-12 students participate in 8-10 week long paid summer research positions. Students interested in a summer research position in Physics and Astronomy will apply through the H&S Summer Scholars Program. If you are financial aid eligible, this single application will also be considered for a Dana Internship. The deadline for applications is February 11, 2020. During the first Physics & Astronomy Department Seminar of Spring 2020, faculty will review the projects available in summer, 2020. Attending this seminar is mandatory for any student wanting to engage in summer research at IC or elsewhere. Research projects offered with IC Physics & Astronomy Faculty for summer 2020 are:

Colleen Countryman

  1. Mobile App Development and Analysis: We are currently in the process of developing a prototype of a mobile app and in-class activity intended to improve introductory physics students’ understanding of electric fields. The prototype will be tested in classes in Spring 2020 in order to determine learning and attitude shifts that occur while using the app, and compare these shifts to the shifts that occur using other traditional means. We will also gain feedback on how the app could be improved to facilitate understanding and improve attitudes regarding the course material. The feedback on the app will inform how the app can be improved upon this summer. This may include the incorporation of new features and redesigning the user interface for students. Some experience with programming and/or mobile app development is preferred.
  2. Creation and Assessment of Supplementary Tutorial Videos: This summer, we will need students to set up a small “video production lab” that will be used to create brief supplementary video instruction for students of introductory physics classes. Such videos (like those from Kahn Academy) have been shown to increase student achievement and motivation. We will use cognitive theory of multimedia learning to inform the creation of the videos and develop a means of assessing their effectiveness in our courses.

Beth Ellen Clark Joseph

  1. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Research: Deriving a Geotechnical Model for Imaging and Spectral Data of Rock Properties on Target Asteroid (101955) Bennu. (8 weeks starting on or around 15 May)

Jerome Fung

  1. Construction of optical tweezers: In my lab, we’re building optical tweezers, which consist of a focused laser beam that can exert piconewton forces on micrometer-sized particles in a fluid. So far, we’ve built a custom microscope and achieved optical trapping for the first time. Next steps include implementing a three-dimensional imaging technique that can detect the position and orientation of trapped particles, as well as generating multiple steerable traps. In this project, you will learn about optics and how to handle optical and optomechanical components. There may also be opportunities to do some machine shop or electronics work.
  2. Simulations of optical trapping: It is not possible to predict the forces and torques exerted by optical tweezers on a micrometer-sized, nonspherical particle (such as an ellipsoid) analytically; numerical calculations are required. Particles in optical tweezers also experience forces due to the fluid (e.g., water) they are surrounded by. You will perform simulations on a high-performance computing cluster to determine how nonspherical particles behave in optical tweezers. Some programming experience in MATLAB or Python (or a strong desire to learn!) would be helpful. If E&M (PHYS 118 and/or 305) or PHYS 301 (Mathematical Methods) were among your favorite classes, this might be the project for you!

Luke Keller

  1. Observations and 3-D computer modeling of the early stages of planet formation: We are investigating whether the process of planet formation is different when the abundances of heavier elements (Carbon, Oxygen, Silicon, etc.) are lower so that there is less dust. We have infrared and optical (visible light) spectra, ultraviolet and optical images, and photometric measurements of stars in the nearby Small Magellanic Cloud in which the chemical environment is heavy element poor. Students will assist with data analysis and also learn to use computer models to estimate the physical properties of material orbiting these stars. The project involves work on computers, including programming in Python, but no prior coding experience is required.

Matt Price

  1. I am beginning a new education project based around understanding identity, mindset, and persistence in physics students. I am interested in groups that are underrepresented in physics at Ithaca College and beyond.
  2.  I am going to be working on building a Discipline-Bases Education Research group at Ithaca College that will be part of a regional consortium. I hope that this becomes a national group at some point.
  3. I will be working to get the IC radio Telescope mount built, as well as test the new electronics, and work on a way to collect data with both sets of electronics.
  4. I am in the initial stages of working on an experimental archaeology/physics project by building a small water mill on campus. We are at the very beginning, so I don’t know where this will go.

Matt Sullivan

  1. Interactive Quantum Levitation Demonstration: Ithaca College Physics and Astronomy students have successfully created many visually stunning demonstrations of flux-pinned superconductors – so called quantum levitation - on our Flat Track, Looped Track, and bius Strip Track.  Now is the time to step up our game and create demonstrations that you can not only see but also interact with.  This is an engineering project that will include the 3D printers and measurements of mechanical properties of the systems in question.