Research Opportunities

All Physics and Biophysics faculty engage interested students in cutting-edge research. Unlike at major research universities, our faculty work one-on-one with student researchers, providing students with invaluable hands-on experiences and independent critical thinking skills that contribute enormously to their academic and professional successes. Due to its high impact, research is a requirement for all Physics and Biophysics majors.

Students can conduct research during the semester or summer for upper division credit (PHYS 496) or pay. While only one semester of research is required, many of our majors complete several semesters and summers of research. Interested in getting involved? Curious about how to complete the PHYS 496 requirement? Read on.


How to Obtain a Research Position

  • Browse the department website and read over the faculty bios.
  • Think about your personal scientific interests. Are you interested in Biophysics? Thermodynamics? Astrophysics? Materials Science? Optics? Plasma Physics? Laser spectroscopy? Nanotechnology? Try to mesh your interests with that of a particular faculty member.
  • Make an appointment to discuss research opportunities with a faculty member.
  • To conduct research for PHYS 496 credit: (i) read and review the Procedures and Requirements with your faculty mentor and (ii) complete and submit the PHYS 496 Enrollment Application.
  • To conduct research for pay, review the paid research opportunities and choose an appropriate opportunity in consultation with your faculty mentor.

Some Exciting Benefits of Undergraduate Research

Most of our student researchers present their research results at local, national, and/or international scientific conferences including:

Many students also have their research published in scholarly journals, including:

And more!

Student research in Physics and Biophysics has been supported by over $2.5M in external faculty research grants since 2010 from agencies that include:

  • National Science Foundation
  • US Department of Energy
  • US Air Force
  • Petroleum Research Fund
  • Research Corporation
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
  • Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation

Paid Research Opportunities


The SURE Scholars program that provides financial resources for students (and faculty) participating in summer research.

The Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) is an eight-week educational summer research program designed to give entering students (first-year or transfer) the opportunity to get involved in a research project the summer before beginning their first year at USD.


Research is at the heart of USD McNair Scholars. Participants are partnered with faculty mentors in their discipline and formulate a research plan. In summer, Scholars receive stipends to support their research projects. USDMcNair further supports the publication and presentation of participants' results in journals and professional conferences.


A National Science Foundation (NSF) program that supports undergraduate research at one of several sites scattered throughout the country. Students travel to these NSF sponsored sites and participate in active research with a faculty mentor. This is a competitive program but the experience is invaluable. Visit the REU website for more information. USD currently has an REU program that engages community college students, veterans, and first-generation college students in research. Students from any university, including USD, are eligible to apply.
In early 2017, USD was one of just eleven schools that received this three-year Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation Scholars Program Award. This educational award supports student-driven research for two summers and the intervening academic year. The award consists of a stipend and an opportunity to present your research at the Beckman Symposium in Irvine.


The National Undergraduate Fellowship Program in Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy Sciences (NUF) program provides outstanding undergraduates with an opportunity to conduct research in the disciplines that comprise the plasma sciences in general and fusion research in particular. The nine-week-long summer research projects are performed at one of many universities and national laboratories throughout the country. Prior to beginning research, students participate in a one-week training course at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.



Rae Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor, Physics & Biophysics
randerson@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-8867


Gregory Severn, PhD

Professor, Physics & Biophysics
severn@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-6845

Daniel Sheehan, Ph.D.
Professor, Physics & Biophysics
dsheehan@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-4095

Theodore Dezen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Physics & Biophysics
tdezen@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-7682

Ryan McGorty, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Physics & Biophysics
rmcgorty@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-8866