Student Research Opportunities

Student involvement in individual projects
(from the first year of college onward)
is central to the character of our program.

Student Research Opportunities: Students are encouraged to broaden their education by conducting research as an undergraduate (from their first year of college, to graduation and beyond). Through such experiences, students learn how to "do" science and participate in the process of gathering scientific knowledge. Former research projects conducted by IWU students have led to presentations at various conferences (including IWU's John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference and various national and international conferences), publications in scientific journals, and the achievement of "Research Honors." Undergraduate research experience also helps prepare students for graduate or professional school.

Any student interested in participating in an undergraduate research project should approach their academic advisor and/or other faculty/staff of the department with whom the student is interested in conducting research.


Course Credit: With the consent of your academic advisor and your research advisor, course credit (Phys 495 or 499) may be earned for your research experience.


Research Honors: Qualified students are strongly encouraged to seek "Research Honors" during their senior year for their original student research projects. Course credit (Phys 499) may be earned for work associated with the completion of an Honors Research project.

The assent of a faculty member willing to serve as project advisor is required for participation. Students must discuss their interest in research honors with their academic advisor and their research project advisor no later than the spring semester of their junior year. Moreover, a student's intention to attempt Honors Research must be declared to the Associate Provost during the semester immediately preceding achievement of senior standing.

Students may seek Research Honors in their major field (or in another field in which six course units will have been completed prior to beginning the Honors Project) provided that a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 overall and 3.50 in the field in which honors are sought has been maintained (exclusive of military science courses).

Students seeking Research Honors must present and defend their research to their project hearing committee. The project hearing committee, appointed by the faculty advisor with the consultation and consent of the student, will review the completed project and determine whether or not Honors shall be granted.

See examples of student Honors Projects.


Faculty Research: Faculty in the Physics Department at IWU conduct research in a broad range of areas. For detailed descriptions of faculty research interests, see the Faculty/Staff Profiles.


A number of research opportunities exist within the Illinois Wesleyan physics department in:

  • Optical Manipulation of Matter at Small Length scales
  • Modeling Stochastic Processes
  • Observational Astronomy
  • Electronics
  • High-Density Magnetic Dot and Anti-Dot Array Fabrication via Nanosphere Lithography
  • Ill-Condensed Matter
  • Collective Behaviors & Medium-Mediated Interactions
  • Novel Microscopies
  • Optics