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Physics & Astronomy Research

Our faculty are committed to the meaningful involvement of undergraduates in research in several areas.
Contact the faculty listed below for more information.

Balloon and Rocket Flights

UNC Physics Rockets

Student teams design, construct, and test small computer-interfaced payloads that are launched in Colorado on high-altitude balloons or launched on rockets from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. These projects are funded by NASA and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium (Prof. Semak and Prof. Walch).

Physics Education Research

UNC Physics PER

Student performance on diagnostic tests can provide insight into the process of learning physics. Our analysis of such test results may lead to improved teaching practices (Prof. Dietz, Prof. GalovichProf. Semak, Prof. Willis).


UNC Physics Robotics

Students design, develop, and construct a variety of robots, including Odin, a large student-built rover that simulates remote-controlled, off-planet robots via internet-based programming (Prof. Semak).


UNC Physics astronomy

Originally designed and launched for the purpose of finding transiting exoplanets, NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has revolutionized the study of variable stars. Students take part in research that has improved our understanding of stellar structure, stellar evolution, and how our Milky Way Galaxy formed (Prof. Kuehn, Prof. Lazarova).

Energy and Nano Science

UNC Physics Nano

The E.N.S.E.R (Energy and Nano Science for Research and Education) Lab is mainly for collaborative research projects involving physics, chemistry, and biology students. We currently use optical tweezers to 1) trap micro spheres and measure the drag force exerted by liquid crystals and 2) study the mechanical stress for specifically designed two-dimensional DNA origami structures. Gel electrophoreses, Imaging system, SEM, and UV-VIS are also used for functionalizing quantum dots with DNA strands. (Prof. Sung).

Ultrafast and Strong-Field Physics

UNC Physics Strong Field

The interaction of very short and extremely intense laser pulses with matter is studied computationally. Recently, two-color circularly polarized laser fields were used to drive novel dynamics in strong-field double ionization (Prof. Chaloupka).

Imaging Science

UNC Physics Imaging

We design and develop novel techniques to capture images of physical phenomena. Recently, a two-path schlieren imaging system was created that generates two simultaneous views sensitive to phase variations along orthogonal directions (Prof. Chaloupka).

Nonlinear Dynamics and Audio

UNC Physics Nonlinear

We explore novel and established speaker designs and tools for live audio situations. We also study a wide range of topics in computational nonlinear dynamics (Prof. Semak).