Lehigh Physics Undergraduate Research Program


Summer 2018

The deadline for applications closed on March 7, 2018.  Please check back in late fall for details about our Summer 2019 program.  For other questions about your application or the program in general, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us at

The program is supported in part by the National Science Foundation as a "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (REU) site.  Undergraduate physics and related majors currently in their sophomore or junior year are invited to apply.  The Lehigh Physics Undergraduate Research Program is intended for students who plan to pursue graduate study in physics or related fields.  The stipend for the full 10-week program will be $6000.  The work will be supervised by Lehigh faculty and will run from May 29 - August 4, 2018.  Free housing is also available to participants.  


Possible research areas include

Astrophysics.  Current research involves theoretical and observational studies of stars and planets.  Particular areas of interest in stellar astrophysics are young open clusters, binary stars, X-ray binaries and pulsars, stellar pulsations, and the formation of disks in Be stars.  Research on planets involves the discovery and characterization of exoplanets orbiting bright stars, and the search for extraterrestrial biosignatures.  Profs. DeLeo, McSwain, Pepper.

Lehigh University Physics - Students rafting on a riverAtomic Physics.  Research involves experiments on atomic gases cooled to nanokelvin temperatures to investigate quantum phases of matter.  Phenomena observed in atomic gases include superfluidity, quantum magnetism, Mott insulators, and topological band structures, and serve as models to guide our understanding of quantum many-body physics.  Current topics of interest include spectroscopy of novel laser-cooling transitions and superfluidity in the presence of artificial gauge fields.  Experiments combine a wide range of techniques, including precise hardware synchronization, development of laser and optical systems, radio-frequency electronics, and image analysis.  Prof. Sommer.

Biophysics.  Experimental and theoretical studies of cellular biomechanics.  Optical tweezers, light scattering, and optical microscopy of colloids, polymers, and biomaterials.  Mathematical and computational modeling of cell division, cell motion, polarized growth, and mating and physics of cytoskeletal self-organization.  Experimental study of interactions between cells and nanomaterials.  Experimental study of lipid membranes using microfluidics and confocal microscopy.  Profs. Honerkamp-Smith, Jedlicka, Ou-Yang, Vavylonis

Condensed Matter Physics.  Investigation of optical and electronic properties of defects in semiconductors and insulators using Raman and IR spectroscopy and luminescence spectroscopy.  Spectroscopy of charge carrier photoexcitation and charge transport dynamics in polar and molecular crystals.  Raman and neutron scattering studies of phase transitions and phonons in disordered ferroelectrics and glasses.  Profs. Biaggio, Dierolf, Fowler, Stavola, Toulouse

Electrical Engineering and Nano-Science.  BIOMEMS; including cell-based sensors and biomechanics of cells. Physical electronics of image sensors and flat panel displays.  Theory of carbon based nanophotonics. Theory and characterization of low-dimensional plasmonic structures. Theoretical and experimental study of nanoscale phenomena in soft matter; nanofluidics.  interfacial electronic behavior between semiconductors and dielectrics and between semiconductors and metals.  Profs. Hatalis, Strandwitz, Tatic-Lucic.

High Energy TheoryThe high energy theory research in the department covers various aspects of string theory, quantum field theory and cosmology, both at the fundamental and phenomenological level.  String theory ideas and techniques are applied to better understanding quantum phases of matter and the connection between theories of gravity and the quantum realm.  Prof. Cremonini.

Lehigh University Physics - Student in REU programMaterials Science.  Defect energetics and dynamics in solids, kinetics of phase transitions, development of computer simulation methodologies, and mechanical properties of metals and ceramic oxides.  Numerous opportunities also exist in a wide variety of interdisciplinary research projects involving glass through Lehigh's International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass.  Possible topics include biofunctional glasses; glassy nano composites and meta materials; novel photoinduced phenomena; nano lithography; ionic, optical and photonic glasses.  Nanocharacterization and theory of 2D materials.  Thermomechanical properties of multi-material metallic or hybrid systems.  Experimental investigations to guide the development of computer simulation methodologies and design optimization protocols for architectured materials.  Profs. Biaggio, Dierolf, Heffner, Jain, Rickman, Strandwitz, Vermaak.

Nuclear/Particle Physics.  Research is on ultra-relativistic heavy ion collisions with the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National labs to study the soup of quarks and gluons called the quark-gluon plasma to understand how the strong force works in extreme conditions.  In particular, high-energy observables such as particle jets will be used to characterize the plasma, which require both large data analysis skills and computer modeling.  There will also be detector development and construction.  Prof. Reed.

Photonics and Nonlinear Optics.  Linear and nonlinear optical properties of organic molecules, molecular assemblies, and crystals.  Optical nonlinearities and nonlinear effects in fibers.  Characterization and development of integrated optical devices: lasers, amplifiers, and nonlinear optical devices.  Advanced optical microscopy.  Profs. Biaggio, Dierolf, Toulouse.

Physics Education Research.  Developing techniques and content to improve delivery of Physics courses and broader outreach.  Topics could include developing presentations of current research for introductory-level audiences or direct research on educational techniques.  Prof. Licini.

Plasma Physics.  Studies of nonlinear dynamics in dense plasma production from nano-crystallites by transient imaging spectroscopy.  Prof. Kim.

Statistical Physics.  Order-disorder transitions near solidification. Fluctuations in crystallinity in randomly close-packed media.  Nonlinear dynamics of granular avalanches and flows. Hydrodynamic instabilities at interfaces.  Prof. Kim.


Further Information

Frequently Asked Questions

REU Coordinator
Department of Physics
16 Memorial Drive East
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
e-mail address:

Apply on or before March 7, 2018.
Awards will be announced beginning in late February and continuing through early April.