Research Experience for Undergraduates

The department has created an 8-10 weeks Undergraduate Summer Research program explicitly for the UCLA Physics and Astronomy department students to be held June 17 to August 23, 2019.  Faculty will define a number of available research projects. 

Interested students should download, fill out, and print out this application providing their project preferences. Application deadline is March 8, 2019.

In addition to the printed application, you will also need to provide:

  • A one-page statement -- a little bit about yourself and your academic and research goals, your motivations, and your interest in doing physics/astronomy research.  You can also optionally provide reasons for your research preferences below.
  • Your unofficial transcript.
  • A resume/CV that includes coursework, lab skills, and coding proficiencies.
  • A letter of recommendation (sent separately to from a faculty advisor.


Low Temperature Physics
Faculty: Gary Williams

Project: The project would be in low temperature physics studying the properties of superfluid helium.  We are currently building a new torsion oscillator system to study in more detail the superfluid properties of very thin helium films adsorbed on carbon nanotubes.  This should answer a number of interesting questions brought up by our previous measurements of third sound propagation in the films on nanotubes.

Faculty: Eric Hudson

Project: The student will work on cooling molecular ion qubits for quantum computing.

Faculty: Katsushi Arisaka

Project: We will investigate how our vision form the perception of external 3D space, by integrating the visual stimulation and eye motion within our brain.  We will combine Virtual Reality headset,  eye motion tracking, and brainwave detection altogether.  

Faculty: Mayank Mehta

1) Hardware+software: Developing hardware and software to measure neural signals in natural and virtual reality from live rats.  Must have some lab experience with digital electronics (e.g. microcontrollers),  and  programing in C.
2) Computation: Develop computational and theoretical techniques to decipher neural responses, and neural rhythms from the live brain of rats.  Should be proficient with either Python or Matlab (preferably Matlab), laboratory experience doing analysis of experimental data, ideally neurobiological data.
Research in our lab focuses on the rapidly emerging field of Neurophysics. The key question here is: How do large ensembles of neurons learn and remember information about the physical world? Recent advances in physics, computer science and neurobiology has put us much closer to addressing this fundamental and long standing question.  Our laboratory combines techniques from these diverse academic fields, including both experimental and theoretical approaches, to tackle this challenge.

Our recent research has focused on understanding how ensembles of neurons form a mental representation of space and time. To address this goal, we measure neural responses from freely behaving behaving rodents without causing much injury to their brain or health. To manipulate their perception of space and time we use state of the art virtual reality system for rats. We also study neural responses during sleep, which influence perception of space-time during behavior. We develop hardware and software to measure neural signals in natural and virtual reality, and we develop computational techniques to decipher the responses we measure in the laboratory and develop mathematical theories to understand the emergent neural dynamics.

Soft Condensed Matter
Faculty: Thomas Mason

Project: Students will analyze trajectories of probe particles and molecules in systems that exhibit both active and passive behavior for microrheology and imaging experiments. This will entail computational/theoretical work using existing experimental data sets that we have. A strong candidate would have programming experience (preference for Mathematica, Matlab, C/C++).

Nuclear physics
Faculty: Huan Z. Huang/Gang Wang

Project: Study of Heavy Quark Interaction with QCD Matter: QCD partonic matter at extremely high temperature and energy density has been created in Au+Au collisions at Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). We will study heavy quark (Charm and Bottom) interactions with the QCD matter in central Au+Au collisions. Heavy quarks are produced mostly through the gluon-gluon fusion process during the initial impact of the colliding nuclei. After the initial production heavy quarks may scatter off partons in the QCD matter and suffer energy losses while traversing the QCD matter via gluon radiation or elastic scattering. We will investigate experimentally signatures of these heavy quark interactions with the QCD matter.