Research Opportunities

All Physics and Biophysics faculty engage interested students in cutting-edge research programs. Research is a requirement for all Physics and Biophysics majors, and unlike major research universities, at USD students works side-by-side with faculty in their research labs. This affords valuable hands-on experiences that contribute enormously to our students' growth and success as independent critical thinkers.

Students can conduct research during the semester or summer for upper division credit or pay. Students often take advantage of these opportunities and complete several semesters and summers of research. Many student researchers present their results at local, national and international scientific conferences including:

Student may also have their research published in physics publications, including:

And more!

Faculty-student collaborative research in Physics is supported via grants from various funding agencies:

  • 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

Research grants totaling over $2M have been awarded to the department since 2010.

Faculty mentors work closely with students on both USD funded projects and externally funded research projects. This page is designed to be a resource for students seeking research opportunities at USD as well as other institutions.

Obtaining a Summer 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.
  • In collaboration with a faculty mentor, pursue funding opportunities (see below).

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.
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 program is intended primarily for students completing their junior year majoring in physics or engineering, but highly motivated students completing their sophomore year are encouraged to apply as well.

The nine-week long research projects are performed at one of the many participating universities and national laboratories throughout the country. The goal of the program is to stimulate students' interest in the fields relevant to fusion research while providing capable assistants for fusion research projects.

In order that the students obtain a sufficient background to begin their research projects, the nine week project is preceded by a one week introductory course at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in the basic elements of plasma physics, after which the students travel to the sites of their research projects.

Awardees receive a stipend, housing and travel support. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fusion Energy Sciences. Please visit the NUF website for more information.

Rae Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor, Physics & Biophysics
(619) 260-8867

Gregory Severn, PhD

Professor, Physics & Biophysics
(619) 260-6845

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

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

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