The Physics and Engineering Department offers a wide array of research opportunities on campus at Wheaton.
Summer Research Program
Every year, a cohort of motivated Wheaton students are named Undergraduate Research Fellows and are invited to participate in Wheaton’s Summer Research Program.
The Undergraduate Research Fellows, who receive stipends and no-cost housing, research forty hours per week for ten weeks under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The Wheaton College Summer Research Program is funded with project support from federal research agencies (the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, etc.), the Wheaton College Alumni Association and generous donors.
Learn more about Wheaton's Summer Research Program
Students may do research under the supervision of a faculty member for credit by enrolling in PHYS 495. Projects must be approved by the physics and engineering department.
Hourly Research Assistant
Faculty with external grant funding or similar resources regularly hire student researchers to work on a paid hourly basis during the school year. See individual faculty for possible openings.
Students with a GPA of 3.70 in the major and 3.50 overall may complete an honors thesis and receive an honors designation on their transcript upon graduation. An approved research project is a central component of the honors program. A written thesis summarizing the research project and its conclusions must be completed and defended orally to receive the honors designation. Contact the department chair for more details.
|Classifier Performance of Radiomic Features from Breast Lesions Imaged Using DCE-MRI
Advisor: Dr. Heather M. Whitney
|Wheaton Impulsive Reconnection eXperiment (WIRX) Waves In Two-Ribbon Arcades
|Investigating the Role of Resistivity and Viscosity in the Sawtooth Cycle
Advisor: Dr. Darren Craig
|Effects of Hotspot Limited Mass Accretion on Electron Capture Supernovae in Binary Systems
|First Absolute Wavelength Calibration of Ion Doppler Spectrometer at Madison Symmetric Torus
|Investigation of Effects of Lower Metalicities on ECSN Channel in Binary Stars
|Towards a Quantitative Understanding of Radiation Damping Effects
on Magnetization Transfer Parameters
Advisor: Dr. Heather M. Whitney
|Understanding Radiation Damping in the Context of
|Magnetic Field and Velocity Fluctuations with and without a Reversal Surface in the
|A Model for Plasma Temperature and Density in WIRX
|Non-Conservative Evolution: Implementation in the Stellar
Evolution Code MESA and Outlook on ECSN Progenitors in
|Electron Capture Supernovae in Binary Systems
|Exploring the Variability of Ion Heating at Reconnection Events in the Madison Symmetric Torus
|Temperature and Density in the Wheaton Impulsive Reconnection Experiment (WIRX)
|Assessment of Quasi-Separatrix Layers
External Research Opportunities (REU)
Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) programs exist at many institutions, typically in the summer with application deadlines normally in December-February. The department provides an annual REU info night for students in the fall semester, maintains for students a collection of REU programs with links to their applications, and provides advising for students interested in applying for these opportunities.
Genevieve Nelson (B.S. Applied Physics '22): Genevieveparticipated in an REU in Summer 2021 with Dr. John Neumeier in Montana State University. She designed, machined, and tested a sapphire dilatometric cell for measuring the thermal expansion of solids. She is continuing to work with Dr. Neumeier to further develop and test the cell throughout the fall. They are also working on writing an article describing their process and results.
Nathaniel Bowden (B.S. Physics and B.A. Spanish '21): Nathaniel completed a SULI internship at Argonne National Lab on accelerator physics applications of machine learning
Michelle de Oliveira (B.S. Applied Physics ’21): Michelle started working in Spring 2020 on research in medical physics research with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on comparison of classifier performance in computer aided diagnosis of breast cancer using radiomic features extracted from DCE-MR images. Michelle presented her work at the 2021 meeting of SPIE: Medical Imaging. Michelle also participated in an REU at Ohio Wesleyan University on disease vector modeling and in the lab of Dr. Nate Thom at Wheaton College.
Austin Richardson (B.S. Applied Physics ‘21): Austin worked with Dr. Jim Schroeder over the summer of 2019 to build a high vacuum system for plasma physics research.
Michael Vieceli (B.S. Physics ’20): Michael worked from Fall 2018 through Spring 2020 on research in medical physics with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on repeatability of classification in computer aided diagnosis of breast cancer using radiomic features extracted from DCE-MR images. and the as well as in a senior honors thesis.
Griffin Walker (B.S. Physics ‘19): Griffin participated in an REU at St. Mary's College of Maryland on Knot Theory.
Emily (Willson) Wenger (B.S. Mathematics and Physics ‘16): Emily worked in a mathematics internship with the Department of Defense developing analytical and statistical tools to solve a computer networking problem of national defense interest. She also worked with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on simulations of radiation damping in nuclear magnetic resonance, completing an honors thesis. Emily presented her work at the annual meeting of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.
John Ginn (B.S. Physics ‘15): John conducted research with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on radiation damping in nuclear magnetic resonance, including making semisolid samples for nuclear magnetic resonance and conducting experiments on them.
Daniel Flavin (B.S. Physics Secondary Education ‘14): Daniel conducted research with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on carotid artery imaging using ultrasound, working on making phantoms and analyzing data.
Andrew Keeler (B.S. Physics ‘13): Andrew conducted research with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on radiation damping in nuclear magnetic resonance.
Rebecca (Russ) McCordic (B.S. Physics ‘13): Rebecca conducted research with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on carotid artery imaging using ultrasound, working on making phantoms and analyzing data. Rebecca also worked in a research experience at Elmhurst College, where she worked with lasers and scanning devices to identify an optimal low-cost light diffraction imaging setup.