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How was your first research experience. :uhh:

  1. May 25, 2008 #1
    Hi there,
    If you have done any undergrad research in physics or science, can you share your experiences. What were the major problems you faced during your first research experience? How was the work load? Generally, how many hours did you work in a week? What was your research goal and how often did you interact with you mentor? Any suggestion and guidance for the undergrad students who are participating in the summer research.

    I am a sophomore, physics major, community college, student. Through the help of TAP, I got selected into the 10 weeks summer research in UC Berkeley. As my mentor, Battaglia, is doing research on particle physics,[link to his research] I'll be doing research in particle physics. Unfortunately, I don't have any strong knowledge on those topics. I mean, beside the popular science knowledge on those topics, I don't have any idea. Academically, I have taken Introductory physics, University physics I and III which covers, classical mechanics, thermodynamics, optics, Special relativity(in CC, did simple mathematics) introduction to modern physics and glimpse of quantum mechanism. Also, I finished all of the calculus series and took Differential equations and linear algebra.
    Ok my question is, basically, what kind of work(research) can i conduct, what background knowledge do i need in order to help my mentor effectively, and what am i suppose to expect to do?

    Is there any nice book or online guide which gives a good idea of whats going on on particle physics [ i dont mean popular science]
    Any suggestion and guidances are welcome.
    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2008 #2
    I'd become an expert on special relativity, learn to love 4 vectors. Learn some C++ if you don't already, ROOT is also widely used in particle/nuclear physics so that would be a plus if you came in with some knowledge of that too. I guess it depends on what he wants you to work on, but if you want to do particle physics, you'll probably use that stuff anyway.

    Good luck!
  4. May 25, 2008 #3


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    I did three research projects - one after freshmen, sophomore, and junior years (that turned into a senior thesis topic). They're not going to expect you to know too much. Your mentor will have a project picked out that's do-able within a couple of months. Expect to spend at least 9-5 5 days a week working on the project. The first project I had, I was in my adviser's office several times a day. By the third one, maybe a couple times a week. Now as a grad student, every other week or so. It's great preparation for grad school - learning how to do the work and how to decide what to do next. All of my projects involved programming, so you might want to learn a little computer science if you haven't already. And try to get them to let you attend a conference to report your work or even publish it. Good luck!
  5. May 25, 2008 #4
    Thank you for your reply. ummm I don't have any idea about programming, the only thing i know is a little bit of MathCAD which i learnt in my physics class. Although its good idea to learn programing, I have only 10 days before the research, thus i assume its hard. Also, i am not sure what kind of programming language he uses. though, i am taking c++ class next semester :D
  6. May 25, 2008 #5
    thank you eri,
    I am comfortable with the working hours. As i am gonna to stay in the Cal dorm for 2 and half months, I have nothing to do beside study for research. Thus I am determined to spend as many hours as possible. By the way, on what field did you do your research. How helpful will the mentor be? What was your the topic of your first research?
    Thank you again
  7. May 25, 2008 #6
    Oh, there's plenty to do in berkly/san fran. Lots of trouble to get into. Its a great place. Don't worry about the programming, you'll pick it up there probably. Might just want to look at online tutorials and write a simple "Hello World" program, a few loops, etc. Can do all that in a day.
  8. May 25, 2008 #7
    Oh haha, Thats what I am expecting for :D . More hours i will be working, more i can learn.
  9. May 25, 2008 #8


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    My internships were in astrophysics and solar physics. It's good that they are putting you up in the dorms - I spent the weekends of my internships hanging out with the other interns, going to museums, national parks, and bars. Make some friends! You'll be running into them at meetings for years afterwards.
  10. May 25, 2008 #9
    Wao, that sounds interesting. So you must had grt time.
    How intense was your research. did you perform your own, new [unique] research or did some project on the existing research. like, once you finished your first research, was it good to publish or was kind of baby research project.
    Sorry for series of stpd. questions. I am just trying to be comfortable :)
  11. May 26, 2008 #10
    I did a small freshmen project my first year on amplitude modulation of a laser for audio transmission.
    Over last summer I worked in a chem lab doing research in intra-cavity laser absorption spectroscopy. I liked the work but it was tedious a lot which took some getting used to. the hours were flexible as it was a university lab solely dedicated to this project. Met some cool people, over all good experience.
    Worked my second year w/ a professor on a low budget cosmic ray detection system. Learned a ton! did a lot of programming with ROOT. met some folk out at Argonne Labs, Great Experience!
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