NSF-Supported "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (REU) Summer Program for Undergraduate Physics Majors

Summer 2016

Apply online now!  The deadline for applications is March 7, 2016.  For other questions about your application or the program in general, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us at

Undergraduate physics and engineering majors currently in their sophomore or junior year are invited to apply to the Lehigh University Summer Undergraduate Research Participation Program in Physics.  This year the Department of Physics at Lehigh University has againLehigh University Physics - Student in REU program been selected by the National Science Foundation as a "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (REU) site.  In addition, a number of Sherman Fairchild Scholarships for research in solid state studies and electrical engineering are also available.  The Lehigh REU program is intended for students who plan to pursue graduate study in physics or related fields.  Participants will receive $580 per week for a 10 week program in one of a variety of current research areas at Lehigh.  The work will be supervised by Lehigh faculty and will begin on May 31, 2016.  Free housing is also available to participants.  

Current research activities available to participants

Please note that not all topics may be available each year.  Depending on our funding availability, we are sometimes able to offer interdisciplinary Physics REU projects with faculty advisors in the Bioengineering, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Materials Science programs at Lehigh.  All applications will receive full consideration regardless of the availability of specific research areas.

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, the formation of disks in Be stars, and the origin of magnetic fields in massive stars.  Research on planets involves the discovery and characterization of exoplanets orbiting bright stars, and the search for extraterrestrial biosignatures.  Profs. DeLeo, McSwain, Pepper.

Atomic & Molecular Physics.  Cryogenic molecular spectroscopy.  Profs. Jaeger, Moore.

Lehigh University Physics - Students rafting on a riverBiophysics.  Experimental and theoretical studies of cellular biomechanics.  Optical tweezers, light scattering, and optical microscopy of colloids, polymers, and biomaterials.  Self-assembly of protein molecules in nonequilibrium and equilibrium conditions and phase transitions. Mathematical modeling of the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton during cell division and cell motion.  Experimental study of interactions between cells and nanomaterials.  Modeling of interactions of proteins, water, rare-earth ions and nanocarbon materials  Profs. Gunton, Jedlicka, Ou-Yang, Rotkin, Vavylonis

Condensed Matter Physics.  Investigation of optical and electronic properties of defects in semiconductors and insulators using Raman and IR spectroscopy, luminescence spectroscopy, and a broad range of theoretical methods.  Spectroscopy of charge carrier photoexcitation and charge transport dynamics in polar and molecular crystals.  Theory of 2D Layered Materials: nanophotonics, thermal interfacial transport, electronic properties.  Surface characterization of nanomaterials.  Raman and neutron scattering studies of phase transitions and phonons in disordered ferroelectrics and glasses.  Profs. Biaggio, Dierolf, Fowler, Rotkin, 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, Rotkin, Strandwitz, Tatic-Lucic.

High Energy 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 and heavy flavor will be used to characterize the plasma, which require both large data analysis skills and computer modeling.  Prof. Reed.

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, Rotkin, Strandwitz, Vermaak.

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, Rotkin, 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.  Kinetics of producing high temperature plasma from nano-particles by means of strong shock waves or high power laser pulses.  Prof. Kim.

Statistical Physics.  Non-equilibrium fluctuations in gases. Chaotic transitions and 1/f dynamics. Nano-crystallites in randomly close-packed media.  Nonlinear dynamics of granular avalanches and flows. Hydrodynamic instabilities at fluid-fluid interfaces.  Profs. Gunton, Kim.


Apply on or before March 7, 2016.

Awards will be announced beginning in late February and continuing through early April.

Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ's) concerning eligibility or the application process (including questions about transcripts and letters of recommendation) can be found here.  If your question is not answered there, or if you have any other questions concerning the REU program please contact:

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