1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Independant Undergraduate Research

  1. Apr 5, 2009 #1
    Alright here's my story, I wanted to apply for undergraduate research positions this summer related to some astrophysics, however I didn't get any callbacks (not sure why, my grades are fine, my guess would be, being a math major I lost out to too many physics students applying, it is pretty competitive at my school.) And none of the actual math research positions were interesting. Now basically my thinking turned to trying to independently studying/researching something in the astrophysics/theoretical physics realm. Now I don't mean research as in, "Oh look I'm reading about this in books and then writing down what I find in there explaining it to someone". I sort of meant like a problem that might be tenable for an undergraduate. I'm not sure this is at all possible, I might be completely off here, but I'm still wondering, are there problems in theoretical physics/physics in general which could be independently researched by undergraduates? If so, would anybody suggest some?

    I'll tell you a bit about myself so you can gauge what sort of level I'm at:

    I'm just about done my 3rd year of my BS in Mathematics. I'm actually more interested in theoretical physics(QM, GR, GUT etc.), but I did my BS in math to avoid laboratory physics :tongue:. I just finished taking a 400 level QM course and 400 level cosmology course, gonna take GR next fall as I just got finished with all the damned pre-reqs. But I've still been studying a bit of GR in my spare time, and reading some pop books(Brian Greene's Elegant Universe) on string theory before I fully immerse myself in the mathematical side of string theory.

    Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Shouldn't you be asking either your academic advisor or a faculty member on this? After all, there's no point in any of us suggesting tons of research topics if no faculty member at your school is willing to supervise your work. It will all go to naught.

    These are also the same people who can suggest to you what you can do based on not only your ability, but the expertise available at your school.

  4. Apr 5, 2009 #3


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I find it hard to believe that not one professor at your school has something for you to work on. Are undergraduates paid a stipend as part of this undergraduate research positions? If that's the case, then you may have been turned down due to lack of funding for more undergrads.

    You should try approaching an individual professor and ask if you can work with him on a project for free. It's not an ideal situation, but I think it'll dramatically increase your chances of getting on a project. Every research group has some need for extra help.

    Zz is right. You should discuss this situation with your adviser. He will be in a better position to assess you and your situation.
  5. Apr 5, 2009 #4
    Thanks guys for the help. You guys are right about talking to the profs. I will inquire more about this at my school. And you're right about the lack of funding. Thanks again for the input.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook