Research Opportunities in the Department

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Performing Research in Physics

One of the highlights of the Cornell physics program is the opportunity for undergraduates to become actively involved in world-leading, cutting-edge research. For students interested in getting involved in research they can look at the research opportunities for undergraduates posted by Cornell faculty below.

Signing up for Research Opportunities

  • Please fill out the following online form to indicate your interest in these (or other) research projects : . The form will be used to populate a database that faculty can check when looking for undergraduate researchers for projects in their labs.
  • In addition to filling out the online form, please upload your CV / resume and a 1 page personal statement (about your background, research interests, future goals, etc…) as PDFs. They should be titled as “Rebecca_Smith_CV.pdf” and “Rebecca_Smith_Statement.pdf”. These documents can be uploaded by sending them via email to
  • You should also feel free to directly contact (via email) any of the professors listed in the research opportunities below, particularly if you do not receive any responses within two weeks.
  • If you are interested in other research opportunities beyond those listed here, you should try contacting other professors directly. One way to do this is to talk with professors teaching your courses, attend Monday lunches with faculty & graduate students (in PSB 401), and the physics colloquium (Monday at 4:00 PM in Schwartz). You should also try reaching out to faculty directly via email.

  Read about Hunter Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholars.

A current list of research positions available in the Department of Physics.

Most undergraduate research positions are unadvertised and students are encouraged to contact a number of faculty in their search.  Below are a few advertised positions. (updated fall 2018)

Research with Professor Tomás Arias

Apply quantum mechanics and supercomputing to understand the physics of materials with important societal impact: from alternate energy technologies, to superconducting cavities, to photocathodes, and even biophysics. Recently, and quite surprisingly, we have discovered ways that non-quantum versions of our techniques also predict the behavior of large crowds of people.  Prospective students must have significant computing skills (experience with Linux a big plus) and have done well in undergraduate quantum mechanics courses.

Contact Professor Arias


Research with Professor Carl Franck

For Summer 2020@, Fall 2020*, Winter Break 2021@, and Spring 2021* (* = for Physics 4490 course credit, @ volunteer).  Seeking an enthusiastic undergraduate to join in our experimental, theoretical and/or computational studies of either 1) X-ray physics, especially novel forms of spectroscopy aimed at uncovering electronic correlation effects in condensed matter and atomic systems. or 2) biological physics where we are learning about signaling in living matter and transitions to multicellular life.  In the first effort. we are interested in performing experiments with energetic electron scattering and especially X-ray photons scattering at Cornell’s synchrotron radiation facility, CHESS, and other national labs. In the second we we exploit laboratory optical, digital, microfluidic and cell culture techniques. Please see and (please email me for a visit and to get an update on our latest publications).  

Contact Professor Franck


Research with Professor Georg Hoffstaetter

High-brightness electron beams

(a) Charged particle optics in accelerators; optics design for the Electron Ion Collider or the CBETA accelerator

(b) Fields excited by the beam in superconducting accelerating structures. (HOM heating and BBU instability)

(c) Beam loss from intense accelerated beams; beam halo analysis

(d) Build detectors for particles being lost in the edges of an intense beam; halo monitors

(e) Design and construction of permanent magnets for particle accelerators

(f) Feedback control of Radio-Frequency components

(g) Machine learning for the complex control of particle accelerators

(h) Optimize electron beams for electron microscopy and electron diffraction

Most projects are related to the large Electron Ion Collider or the CBETA accelerator that we are currently constructing at Cornell:

Contact Professor Hoffstaetter


Research with Professor Rob Thorne

We have projects in two areas:

1. Water is critical to life, yet many aspects of its interactions with biomolecules remain poorly understood.  We are looking for one or more undergraduates to assist in experiments and simulations related to the physics of water and ice formation in biomolecule-containingl structures, including cryoEM samples, protein crystals, and single cells.  These problems are directly connected to important challenges in X-ray crystallography and molecular structure determination of proteins and in cryopreservation and recovery of biological tissues.  Sample projects include exploring glass formation and ice recrystallization during rapid cooling and thawing of aqueous solutions using high speed imaging and simulations; characterizing how folded and unfolded proteins affect ice formation in aqueous solutions; and finite element simulations of the thermal and mechanical response of cryoem grids during cooling.

2.  We are developing a variety of methods, using synchrotron X-rays, for probing the structure and function of biomolecules.  We may have undergraduate projects involving preparation of biomolecular solutions and growth of biomolecular crystals, construction and testing of apparatus, and X-ray data collection and analysis.  

Each of these projects is reasonably self-contained and should lead to journal publications. Good hands and/or good computer skills, good organizational skills, and a good work ethic are the key requirements.  

Please contact Prof. Thorne (ret6) for more information.


Research with Professor Jane Wang

Professor Wang’s research focuses on insect flight, as a means to understanding principles governing the living organisms.

Project 1:  Computer simulation of insect flight

If you love physics and computer simulations, you can play with bugs flying on the computer.  Explore and optimize.  Computer skills:  Matlab, C++, Genetic Algorithms, and Machine Learning.  Please contact Prof. Jane Wang ( with a brief description about your background and a resume.

Project 2:  Art and physics

If you have a background in music or in visual art, we have lots of new small projects.

Contact Professor Wang