Internships and Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Summer Research

Physics students have a wide variety of summer research opportunities available for them, both on and off campus.  Here are a few websites with more information about external research :

A new Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program has become available.  Sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research, this program allows undergraduates to choose to work on research projects at one of six campuses across the nation.  For more information on applying, visit the official REU website:


Are you an incoming freshman with an interest in paid internships in high-tech fields like optics and biomechanics? Contact Gubbi Sudhakaran by email or by phone (608-785-8429) for more information.

Faculty Research

Physics ImageStudent involvement in faculty research projects is strongly encouraged. This emphasis on applied knowledge provides a unique learning opportunity which is very different from the traditional classroom or laboratory experience. Students involved in research regularly work on a part-time basis for a semester or two with a faculty member in their area of specialty.  Summer research is often supported through individual faculty research grants or other sources of funds.

For example, students can work in the field of optics.  Dr. Gansen's work involves quantum optics.  Understanding and manipulating single photons is at the frontier of optics research and forms the basis of several cutting-edge technologies involving communications and computation.  UW-L is also home to the Far Infrared (FIR) Laser Laboratory, which houses several homemade lasers including a 13-foot direct discharge molecular laser and an optically pumped molecular laser system, consisting of either a 4.5 and a 6.5 foot Carbon Dioxide (CO2) laser and FIR cavity. Many students, working with Dr. Sudhakaran have received valuable training in laser technology. The wavelength of the laser light is fixed and depends on the source gas. Projects in this vary from recording high resolution spectra of molecules in the FIR region using the Stark effect technique to discovering new optically pumped laser emissions and their properties. By analyzing the results from this work, new information pertaining to the molecules under investigation is obtained.

Students interested in astrophysics can work with Dr. Sallmen or Dr. Barnes on a variety of projects. Dr. Sallmen's work focuses on understanding the interstellar medium (ISM). One project uses data obtained for the SETI@home project to search for neutral hydrogen shells in our galaxy. A related project involves follow-up optical observations of these shells using the 0.9m Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO). A separate project uses analysis of archival radio pulsar data to investigate the properties of the ISM. Finally, several related projects use NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) satellite to study hot gas in the ISM. Further information about Dr. Sallmen's work may be found here.  Dr. Barnes works in theoretical astrophysics, using computer models of galactic systems to understand the nature of dark matter and how galaxies evolve.  Descriptions of Dr. Barnes' previous research work can be found here.

Dr. Ragan conducts theoretical research on spin transport in quantum fluids and solids.  In conjunction with Dr. Kernozek (Health Professions) he is also involved with computational research in biomechanics

Materials properties are the domain of Dr. King's work.  Understanding the properties of the surfaces of different materials is key to advancing solar power technology, in addition to the basic scientific research involved.

Dr. Lesher is a nuclear physicist involved in basic research on the behavior of nuclear material.  This work has far-reaching consequences in diverse topics such as, non-proliferation, medical technology development, geological sampling, and nuclear astrophysics.  

Students can investigate wave propagation and scattering in Composite Materials with Dr. Pillai. This research involves both computational and experimental studies of composite materials using air coupled ultrasonic waves. Currently the modeling of defects and their influence on elastic wave scattering are being developed using 3 networked Ultra 10 Sun Solaris Workstations.

Working with faculty mentors, undergraduate researchers have received research grants and fellowships, co-authored journal articles, and presented at national conferences. The University and College of Science and Health strongly support undergraduate research by providing summer research stipends, travel and supply funds, and by publishing an undergraduate research journal.

Students can also work in the UW-La Crosse planetarium, where numerous presentations are conducted throughout the year. Several UW-L graduates have become planetarium directors.