Physics and Engineering Student Research

A group of students work on their assignment in class.

Students who pursue a major in the physics and engineering department have a unique opportunity to conduct research alongside experienced faculty. This student research involves the methodical formation of a scholarly honors project, the process and goal of which is to prepare students for the world of post-baccalaureate scholarship and research.

Some of PLNU’s physics and engineering majors engage in summer research with faculty at PLNU. Other students participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), which are generally held at major research universities and funded by agencies such as the National Science Foundation.

All research involves working closely with a faculty mentor on a research project, and the research generally culminates in a presentation of your findings. Many physics and engineering students turn their summer research projects into honors theses. In completing the thesis, you will be coached through the various stages of conducting a research project and transforming your work into a scholarly presentation and paper.

The Department of Physics & Engineering will strongly support you as a research student, and you can look forward to working with your faculty mentor throughout the research, editing, and presentation processes, all while gaining invaluable advice and guidance every step of the way.

2018-19 Student Research

Evidence of Energetic Charged Particle Emission During Electrochemical Pd/D Co-deposition
Micah Karahadian
Mentor: Heide Doss
Palladium deuterium co-deposition is used to explore condensed matter reactions. CR-39, a thermoset resin is a well characterized integrative detector that, when etched, shows tracks created by energetic charged particles produced in nuclear reactions. Analysis of tracks provides particle minimum energy and insights into identification (e.g., alpha versus proton). Certain tracks infer neutrons interacting with carbon atoms within the detector, resulting primarily in three alphas (e.g., triple tracks). We report our findings of Pd/D co-deposition on Au wire in an electrolytic cell and our controls. Our findings imply the presence of nuclear reactions.
How much do college students rest in an age of technology?
Savannah Bolock, Abigail Christensen, and Patrick Harvey
Mentor: Lori Carter
Statistics show that some technology, particularly phones, has been affecting students negatively and manifesting in ways such as sleep deprivation and higher stress levels. This study was conducted to shed light on how much rest college students are getting in an age of technological innovation based on this observation and our research. We hope that implications of this will include people, particularly college students, to become more aware of how they are spending their time and ultimately how to find rest despite how busy they may find themselves.
Graphene Research
Noah Cole, Harry Han, Isaac Hughes, Lindsey Plavcan
Mentor: Michelle Chen
Research Performed at PLNU
3D Modeling and Lab Design
Noah Cole, Isaac Hughes
Mentor: Michelle Chen
Research Performed at PLNU
Supercapacitor Research
Lindsey Plavcan
Mentor: Michelle Chen
Research Performed at PLNU

2017-18 Student Research

Engineering/Physics Galactic Cosmic Radiation Shielding Using Active and Passive Methods
Matthew Sailer
Mentor: Heide Doss
We consider the threat of radiation during space missions and review the different shielding methods proposed over the past 60 years. We propose a new method for shielding with the ability to harness useable electrical power and create thrust from the environment.

Chemistry/Physics Synthesis and Computational Analysis of Novel IspF Inhibitors
Daniel Harper
Mentor: Lane Votapka
The development of new antibiotics is time-intensive and costly. In this study, computer methods were combined with traditional experimental work to yield a more focused approach. When the experimentally synthesized molecules failed to yield the desired results, the computational results provided an explanation and a promising angle for future research.

Physics Exploratory Coordination Chemistry: Metal-Nitride Nanoclusters with Cobalt, Bismuth, and Titanium Species
Brendan Crabb
Mentor: Laurance Beauvais
In recent years, the study of nanoclusters has grown considerably because of their possible use in a wide range of applications. In this research, we are focused on preparing new titanium chloride precursors to titanium-nitride clusters. These molecules will be presented and possible synthetic routes to new nanoparticles will be discussed.

Maker Space Design and Alumni Outreach
Alexander Mathews
Mentor: Greg Crow and Maria Zack Research performed at PLNU

PLNU WIFI Data Analysis
Noah Cole and Isaac Hughes
Mentor: Greg Crow and Maria Zack
Research performed at PLNU

Instructional and Pedagogical Uses Amazon Web Services 2018
Joey Tuttobene
Mentor: Mike Leih
Research performed at PLNU

Automating Ground Station Communication with two of their CubeSats
Phillip Ward
Research performed at Montana State University’s Space Science and Engineering Laboratory

Enabled successful demonstrations of multi-modal subsea communications systems using very low frequency radio frequency, acoustic modems, and free space optics units.
Eric Lu
Research performed at SPAWAR

Graphene Synthesis, Characterization and Transferring
Madison Berger, Alex Koch, Estifanos Mekuria
Mentor: Michelle Chen
Research Performed at PLNU

Mobile App Creation for Android
Alex Mathews
Mentor: Lori Carter
Research Performed at PLNU

2016-17 Student Research

Graphene Synthesis, Transferring, and Characterization
Madison Berger, Alex Koch and Estifanos Mekuria
Research performed at PLNU

Development of IspF inhibitor
Daniel Harper
Research performed at PLNU

Graphene Synthesis by Chemical Vapor Deposition
Kathrine Quiros, Michael Lambert, Daniel Solar
Research performed at PLNU​​​​​​​

Neural Network Compression​​​​​​​
Richard Dallas Probert
Research performed at SPAWAR​​​​​​​

Exploratory Coordination Chemistry: Metal Nitride Nanoclusters with Cobalt, Bismuth, & Titanium Specis
Brendan Crabb
Research performed at PLNU​​​​​​​

2015–16 Student Research

Effect of Oxygen Concentration on Sonoluminescence at PLNU
David Graham, Dallas Probert, and Lindsey Watson
Research Performed at PLNU

Biomedical Physics — Fluorescent Dyes
Alyssa Forber
Research Performed at Texas Christian University

REU — Reaction Front Barriers in Vortex Domain Flows
Laura Skinner
Research Performed at Bucknell University

Structural Engineering
Daniel Sarkisian
Interned at CityScape Engineering for Research

Single Particle Structure of 209,210PbHg Investigated Through the Deep Inelastic Reaction 136Xe + 208Pb
Clayton Hamill
Research Performed at Brookhaven National Lab

Organocatalysis by Site-Isolated N-Heterocyclic Doped into the UIO-67 Framework
Brendan Crabb
Research Performed at PLNU

2014–15 Student Research

Constructing of and Initial Observations With a Sonoluminescence Chamber
Drew Eby, Alyssa Forber, and Laura Skinner
Research Performed at PLNU

First Principles Calculations for Nanostructured Thin Films
Carina Kazmierowick
Research Performed at the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry (CSMC), University of Oregon, UC Berkeley

Characterization of Al-doped Zinc Oxide for Transparent Conducting Oxides
Melanie Broman
Research Performed at Materials Science and Engineering REU, North Carolina State

2012–13 Student Research

Holographic Interferometry
James Carmichael
Research Performed at PLNU

Quantitative Imaging of Sm-153
Hannah Ponek
Research Performed in Medical Physics at John Hopkins University

Undergraduate Lab Curriculum Development
Joshua Ortega
Research Performed at PLNU

Study of Brownian Motion Through Video Analysis
Erik Tammaru
Research Performed at PLNU

Graphene Synthesis
Andrew Schalin and Joshua Wathen
Research Performed at PLNU

2011–12 Student Research

Graphene Synthesis
Hannah Ponek
Research Performed at PLNU

Conservation of Water and Electricity for New Building Sites
Derek Richdale
Research Performed at Texas A&M

Structural Response to Earthquakes
Kurt Kellogg
Research Performed at UCLA

Robotic Controlled Quadrotor
Austin Timm
Research Performed at PLNU