At Truman you have ample opportunities to engage in research with a faculty mentor. Research is a requirement of the BS degree, and it culminates with a presentation at a local, state, or national professional conference. Physics majors also take advantage of Research Experience for Undergraduates sites at various universities and national labs.
Recent and current student projects include:
- Ultrasonic studies of tissue
- Construction of a numerical action minimizer
- Modal characteristics of clarinet reeds
- Magnetic damping by eddy currents
- Diode laser atom trap
- Nonlinear dynamics and chaos
- Propagation of surface elastic waves
Various theoretical and computational projects related to quantum mechanics in phase space: trying to understand Wigner functions as the time-component of an underlying probabilistic particle current.
Experimental, theoretical and computational projects involving quantum optics, nonlinear dynamics, and the classical-quantum transition.
Laser cooling and trapping of atoms; The interaction of light with atoms; Distributions of short-time Lyapunov exponents of chaotic systems; Calculation of level curves of the Wigner distribution function for the square barrier potential.
Astrophysics; Formation and evolution of compact binary stars; Population synthesis of binary stars; Accretion disks; Planet formation and habitable planets; Astronomy; CCD Photometry; variable stars.
Research involving the physics of sound production and radiation in musical instruments. Characterizing woodwind reeds — asking whether variations in the vibrational modes of woodwind reeds are correlated with variations in the quality (timbre, “playability”) of the reeds as perceived by players. Experimental component: using holographic interferometry to image reed vibrational modes as well as other acoustical techniques. Theoretical component: modeling reed vibrations using finite element techniques.
Theoretical and experimental projects, plus research on physics education. Ultrasonic study of the elastic properties of heart tissue and other biological materials; Organic semiconductors; Surface plasmons; Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy; Investigating the effectiveness of active learning methods in physics education.
Mainly theoretical and computational projects. Wave propagation, surface elastic waves; Ray theory and caustic formation; Physics of imaging, seismic and X-ray imaging; Mathematical physics, differential geometry; Foundations of quantum mechanics; Quantum optics and quantum electronics; Computational fluid dynamics; Numerical simulations in statistical mechanics; Phase transitions and critical phenomena.
Even in a small department, the personal contact matters. In the fall of my freshman year, I went to a barbecue at a professor’s house, so I met students and professors personally early on. I also joined the Society of Physics Students, where I met older students who gave me good advice about my four-year plan.