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Undergrad Research - Physics

  1. Mar 1, 2012 #1
    Every physics undergrad at my university has to do a research project with a professor. I haven't really made any real connection with any of the professors except for my quantum mechanics teacher. She is a very nice person and we think alike and get along very well. I would of course like to do my research project with her, but she wants me to take 2 additional courses plus my research an order to do research with her. Her research involves chemistry and chirality. I still haven't actually seen what is involved yet in her research but told her that I would like to see what its all about.

    The thing is, I'm already double majoring and my degree is already taking long enough as it is. I don't think I want to add anymore courses and delay my graduation any further, but at the same time I think we would make a great team.

    So, do I take extra classes and do research with a person that I like or pick someone else and get it done in just one semester?

    She did tell me that if I do a masters in physics that I could always do my masters research project with her. So that could be a possibility later on.

    She is actually the first professor to take an interest in me and that means a lot. I have never done research before and don't really know what its like. Does anyone here have an any advice about doing research or does anyone have a research experience to share?
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2012 #2
    Hi Fellowroot,

    It sounds like you are not planning on graduate school at this point (correct me if I'm wrong). If you are planning to go into the job market right away my advice would be scout a couple more professors in your department looking for a) good personality and mentoring skillz, b) research that interests you. Do not delay your graduation (paying extra tuition and forfeiting job income) for the sake of working with this specific professor.

    HOWEVER, if you are considering graduate school then I would advise the opposite. To be a competitive applicant you need research experience and strong recommendations. Take the extra classes this prof requires then spend time above and beyond the one required semester working for her. Try to throw in a summer REU if possible.
    EDIT: I should have mentioned that you'll want to find out more about her research and the extra classes to make sure it's a research area you are actually interested in!

    Hope this helps!
  4. Mar 1, 2012 #3
    Yes, I plan on going to grad school, but I may be going to the same school as I am now, where it may not be that competitive to get in. Current gpa is 3.5, I would like to get into a good grad school but don't know if I can afford it. I think that I would like to go for a phd though in the future.

    If I had only known about her when I first started then it would have been really easy to fit her classes in. The only thing is that I'm 27 right now and that it may put be a semester behind. I'm trying to get this done without prolonging anything. I just wish I would have done this when I was younger.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  5. Mar 1, 2012 #4
    Why are you double majoring (and, more importantly, what are your two majors)? It won't help you more than doing solid research for graduate school, so it might be a worthy sacrifice.
  6. Mar 1, 2012 #5
    I am double majoring because I originally wanted a physics degree at my school but they didn't have one so I picked math. Then later on a physics degree program was created at my school and I had to go for it because it was my original choice.

    It's a small school. Yeah, they didn't even have a BS in physics at first, but its affordable and close by and that's why I went there.
  7. Mar 2, 2012 #6
    It might be beneficial to just drop the math major.
  8. Mar 2, 2012 #7
    I only have 2 math classes left for my entire math degree. I don't think I'm going to drop my math or physics as I'm at the VERY END!

    I'm basically done, only 3 required classes to take, 2 math and 1 physics research, but if I do my research with this one professor it extends my degree by 2 additional classes.

    What kind of advice are you giving anyway telling people to drop their majors? I'm actually stronger in math than physics anyway and have spend thousands of dollars in the process and years of time. What the heck man?!?!?!
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  9. Mar 3, 2012 #8
    Relax, from what I seen from this forum, a lot of people double major when they really don't needed to. That fact that you didn't explain this in the beginning, I doubt anyone was aware that you were almost finished. If all it would extend your degree by one semester, do that and work with the person you were talking to, but if the research isn't something that will interest you, the prof. will tell by your lack of enthusiasm.
  10. Mar 4, 2012 #9
    If you go directly to PhD programs in physics (rather than first doing a Masters) you will be fully funded (AKA you pay no tuition and you will receive a salary that is livable). It may make more sense financially to pay to extend your undergrad by 1 or 2 semesters (improving your application) in order to skip the Masters and go right into a PhD program. Since you mention your school has very recently created their physics department I would STRONGLY advise against doing your graduate work there.
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