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Physics research area that aligns w/ skills and interests

  1. Jul 5, 2015 #1
    I really like mathematics, physics, and programming/simulation/computer modeling. I want to try my hand at physics research. However, I don't want to build sensors or spend most of my time building experiments. I really like coding and data analysis. I am thinking that astrophysics research might be my cup of tea, but I am also interested in plasma/nuclear, quantum computing, and HEP, though of course it is impossible to know without trying things and learning more first. What areas of research are almost purely computational and won't require me to spend months building an experiment? I don't mind building for small amounts of time, but in general it isn't what I am passionate about.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    If someone were to come in my office and say that, I would say, "Hmmm...have you spoken to Professor Smith down the hall?"

    Undergrad research is a pain for professors. Undergrads, especially freshmen, know very little. There just aren't many things that they can contribute to. Also, they have a tendency to stop showing up: maybe their course load is too heavy, maybe it's something else. Whatever, when someone starts saying what she doesn't want to do, Professor Smith comes to mind. If she turns out to be decent, I'll try and poach her from him for next term.

    There's stuff in every lab that just needs to get done: categorize these sensors, samples, photographs, etc. When the new person understands that this needs to be done, but nevertheless doesn't want to do it. this causes problems. There may not be another task she can do at that time.

    An attitude I much prefer is "Hey, it's only 13 weeks. Maybe it's not my first choice, but I can put up with it for 13 weeks."
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2015
  4. Jul 5, 2015 #3


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    It's perfectly ok to know what type of work you would like to be trying. Of course not all faculty will accommodate you. But read up on what the faculty in your school are doing and talk to those whose work you are interested in. You will need some luck, but there is no harm trying. I myself once went around looking for an undergraduate research opportunity doing computational or theoretical physics (but for reasons different from yours - I knew I was not going to end up doing graduate work in physics, since I was interested in biology grad school, but had to write an undergraduate physics thesis, and wanted to try non-experimental physics). I did get very lucky, and got to work on a fun computational project in quantum chaos.
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