Student Research

Student Research

Student Research

Physics majors obtaining the B.S. degree complete an undergraduate research project and thesis, and they give a talk or poster at a professional meeting.  Many of our students have external research opportunities, but others are interested in working with UD professors in areas of astronomy/astrophysics, cosmology, or nuclear physics.  Below are examples of locations where students have completed their research.  Abstracts for their presentations at professional meetings are provided as links.


  • S. Garza -  Harvard & Smithsonian | Center for Astrophysics, Dr. Matthew Ashby "GMC Dust Masses and CO-to-Dust Conversion Factors in the Whirlpool Galaxy" 
  • P. Niles - Cerium Labs, Dr. Flanagan
  • S. Evans - University of Dallas, Dr. Moldenhauaer
  • L. Velasco - Jefferson Lab
  • C. Hassan - University of Dallas, Dr. Olenick
  • E. Engelthaler - University of Dallas, Dr. Moldenhauer
  • P. Hedlesky - Cerium Labs, Dr. Flanagan

2019 (Abstracts are at links provided, as they are posted by conferences.)

2018 (Abstracts are at links provided, as they are posted by conferences)

2017 (Abstracts are at links provided, as they are posted by conferences.)


2015 (links to student APS meeting abstracts are provided) 

2014 (links to student APS meeting abstracts are provided)



  • A. Collard conducted research in nano and electrical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.  His research group made two dimensional carbon nitride "melon", a potential semiconductor.
  • J. Schniederjan, James Meier, and Matt Heuser did astronomy measurements in Colorado with Dr. Olenick
  • J. Girgis conducted research at Texas Christian University
  • L. Downes completed a summer REU research project in biophysics at Southwestern University.
  • T. Howard completed an REU in Chemical Engineering at Tulane University and studied carbon nanotubes.
  • B. Combs and Leslie Sidwell conducted NEUP funded research at the University Kentucky with Dr. Hicks.  They measured neutron scattering cross sections for Na-23.

2011physics student research

  • J. Rovny conducted research at Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
  • A. Bechter, E. Bechter, and B. Dufrain looked for binary stars with Dr. Olenick in Colorado.
  • L. Downes, J. Schniederjan, and J. Girgis studied neutron scattering with Dr. Hicks at UK


  • M. Catalano conducted research at the University of Maryland.
  • A. Miller conducted research at Notre Dame University.
  • Z. Kaminski and N. Weisse conducted research at the University of Minnesota.
  • C. Racciato conducted research at the South Dakota School of Mines
  • A. Sigillito conducted research at Virgina Tech.
  • P. Stauduhar completed a project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • J. Rovny and K. Meziere worked on an astronomy project in the Crimea with Dr. Olenick.
  • L. Kersting and C. Lueck did neutron scattering measurements at the University of Kentucky with Dr. Hicks.
  • L. Downes completed an REU at Boston College.

2009physics student research

  • M. Lacy completed an REU program at CERN where she programmed with LABVIEW and worked with electronics to enhance the positron accumulation technique at ATRAP.
  • P. McDonough worked at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, TX with the iridium satellite network.
  • C. Lueck completed his research in an REU program at the University of Oklahoma where he worked on a theoretical project doing Born Oppenheimer calculations.


  • A. Borchard conducted research at Penn State University where she studied the potential for sub-glacial water based on temperature modeling of East Antarctic ice sheets.
  • B. Cole completed an REU program at Montana State University where he investigated the use of Langmuir probes in the study of the ionosphere.
  • J. Gilpin studied the influence of magnetic molecules on electron spin scattering in InAs at Virginia Tech. University.


  • N. Cornell investigated the effect of plasma discharge on simple bacteria. His work was done at the University of Dallas.
  • G. Knutsen conducted research at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and studied the structure of the metal transporter Tp34 and its affinity for divalent metal ions.
  • J. Meier conducted research at Bucknell University's REU program and studied magnetic resonance study of the interaction between water and polyethylene glycol dimetharcrylate hydrogels using T1 relaxation times.
  • P. Norton conducted research at the University of Dallas and studied optical flatness.
  • D. Solis studied the effect of a nematic liquid crystal environment on the alignment of the conductive polymer MEH-PPV as a function of polymer chain length at Rice University.
  • W. Spearman conducted research at CERN studying edgeless silicon detectors.


  • D. Malutich spent four weeks in Russia and Crimea taking data on V795 Her. He worked with Dr. Irina Voloshina of the Sternberg Astronomical Institute of Moscow State University and Dr. Olenick. He took data at the Crimean Observatory.
  • B. McEwen attended summer research program Penn State University and studied using seismology to map and characterize the glacial bed in the onset region of ice stream D, West Antarctica.
  • E. Pepin completed a 10-week REU program at Michigan State University were he investigated interaural coherence and localization.
  • G. Knutsen and David Solis spent five weeks in Colorado taking data on the intermediate polar CV V426 Aql.


  • K. Michels studied the 27Al(p,)28Si reaction at Notre Dame University.
  • D. Malutich and Joe Meier took data on the intermediate polar star V795 Her in Colorado.


  • Jamie Antonelli carried out research at Cornell University in accelerator physics.
  • Maria Bellon participated in research in optics at the University of North Texas.
  • Alan McLaughlin took data on cataclysmic variable stars in Colorado and the University of Dallas.
  • Adam Papania conducted research into nanovalves at Georgia Tech.


  • Jamie Antonelli participated in research in optics into a fiber grating stabilized laser at the University of North Texas
  • Levente Borvk investigated a digital signal processing (DSP) method for neutron/gamma pulse-shape discrimination (PSD) at Etvs Lornd University in Hungary.
  • Christian Clerc conducted research on the nova V603 Aql in Colorado and at the University of Dallas.
  • Kurt Smith researched numerical simulations of Coulomb cluster dynamics at Baylor University.
  • Danny Mehaffey looked into using a PPLN waveguide for producing blue laser light at the University of North Texas.
  • Stephanie Wissel developed Skymaps for GALPROP Simulations of VHE Gamma Rays at the University of Chicago.

Examples of Student Research Theses

Students supervised by Dr. Richard Olenick

Dr. Olenick's research interests include cataclysmic variable research, modeling non-linear phenomena, and physics education. He has supervised the following senior theses at the University of Dallas :

  • A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Performance and Materials Chemistry of a Silicone-Based Replicating Compound, Michael Kalan, research completed at Sandia National Laboratory 2014.
  • Sensitivity of Inferred Electron Temperature from X-ray Emission of NIF Cryogenic DT Implosions, Michael Klem, research completed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 2014.
  • Correlation Between Optical Properties and Charge Carrier Mobility in Regioregular Poly (3-hexylthiophene) Thin Films, Aaron Mebane, research completed during an REU at the University of Texas 2014.
  • Observations and Analysis of the New Dwarf Nova ASASSN-14cv, Anthony Kersting, research completed during a Donald A. Cowan Physics Institute research program in the Michigan Upper Peninsula (2014).
  • Discovery and Follow-up Observations of the Exoplanet Candidate GSC02087-011261, Laura Aumen, research completed during a Donald A. Cowan Physics Institute supported research program in the Michigan Upper Peninsula (2014). 
  • Visualizing the Growth of High Energy Density Mixing Layers, Luke Simmons, research completed at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (2014).

  • Blazhdo Effect in a Newly Discovered and a Known RR Lyrae Star, Matt Melendez, 2013.
  • SCALE 6.1 Validation Testing: Unit Cell Data and Material Input, Paul Stauduhar, work done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2011.
  • The Segmented Universe: Identifying cosmic voids with a multi-scale geometric flow, Andrew Miller, research completed at Notre Dame University, 2011.
  • Langmuir Probe Measurement in the Ionosphere, Benjamin H. Cole, work done at Montana State University, 2009.
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Study of Interaction Between Water and Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate Hydrogels using T1 Relaxation Times, Joseph G. Meier, work done at Bucknell University, 2008.
  • Cold Plasma, Patrick Norton, 2008.
  • A Study of Non-Thermal Plasma for Application in Milling and Biological Sterilization, Nicholas Cornell, 2008.
  • Superhumps in V795 Her, Danny Malutich, work done at UD and Sternbergy Astronomical Observatory, Crimea, Ukraine, 2007.
  • ISE TCAD Semiconductor Pixel Detector Simulations, Gregory Pepin, work done at Purdue University, 2005.
  • A Performance Analysis of Magnetically Actuated Microvalves, Adam Douglas Papania, work done at Georgia Tech, 2005.
  • Computational Modeling of Mass Accretion in a Cataclysmic Variable, Alan McLaughlin, 2005.
  • Data Collection and Analysis of the Variable Star V603 Aql, Christian Clerc, 2004.
  • Data Analysis of the T Tauri Star V1331 Cyg, Joshua Torres, 2004.
  • Generation of Blue Laser Radiation at 486nm using a PPLN Waveguide, Daniel Mehaffey, work done at the University of North Texas, 2004.
  • Coulomb Cluster Dynamics: Numerical Simulations, Kurt W. Smith, work done at Baylor University, 2004.
  • Detection of Delta++/Delta-- Particles in Electron-Position Annihilation Using Wavelet Analysis, Michael Ford, work done at the University of Louisville, 2003.
  • One Loop Radiative Corrections to Double Dalitz Decays, Jonathan Engle, work done at the University of Colorado, Boulder under Dr. Anthony Barker, 2002.
  • Meteorological Study of November Tornadoes, Megan McHugh, work done at the University of Oklahoma, 2001.
  • Classical Modeling of Dark Matter Interactions of Spiral Galaxy Formation, Melvin Laurel, 1998.
  • Chaotic Behavior of Dipoles in an External Field, Broc Stirton, 1996.
  • Analysis of Potential Hazard Near Power Lines, Robert A. Haaser, 1995, awarded top undergraduate paper at the Texas APS meeting that year.
  • Issues in Supercollider Higgs Searches: Computational Application of Theory Addressing Experimental Concerns, Sean Walbran, work done at the SSC under Dr. Ed Wang, 1994.
  • Measuring Lyapunov Exponents of the Forced Inverted Pendulum, Brian Schwartz, 1994.
  • Percolation Modeling of Dielectric Breakdown, Brian Smith, 1993, awarded top undergraduate paper at the Texas APS meeting that year.
  • Animated Poincare Maps for a Chaotic Pendulum, Andrew Hurzeler, 1993.
  • Poisson Statistics Compatible Curve Fitting Routines, David Ruppert, work done at the University of Wisconsin, 1992.
  • Monte Carlo Studies of Thin Film Magnetism, Donovan Wesley Hall, work done at Argonne National Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Strandburg, 1990.
  • Test Particle Motion in the Vicinity of Black Holes: A Keplerian and General Relativistic Approach, Jeffrey Laba, 1989.
  • Fractal Modeling Dielectric Breakdown in Gases, Gregory Lange, 1989, awarded top undergraduate paper at the Texas APS meeting that year.
  • Relativistic Electron Beam Scattering in Thin Films, Larry Robbins, 1989.
  • Computer Modeling of Plasma and Stellar Systems, Vincent Higgins, 1989.
  • Digital Image Processing in Observational Astronomy, Tony Thompson, 1989, awarded top undergraduate paper at the Texas APS meeting that year.

Students supervised by Dr. Sally Hicks

Dr. Hicks conducts research investigating the structure of nuclei. She is also interested in neutron-nucleus scattering, solar neutrinos, and nuclear astrophysics. Much of her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy through the NEUP program. She has supervised the following undergraduate student theses.

Students supported by the  Department of Energy are: 

  • Thaddeus Howard, "56Fe Inelastic Neutron Scattering Cross Sections Deduced from -Ray Production Cross Sections" (2014).
  • Robert Luke Pecha, "Determination of Decay Characteristics of 54Fe Excited Levels through Inelastic Neutron Scattering" (2014).
  • Samuel Henderson, Neutron Scattering Measurements on 54Fe at En=3.0 and 4.0 MeV (2013).
  • Leslie Sidwell, "Neutron Scattering Measurements on 23Na at En=3.20 and 3.40 MeV", (2012-2013).
  • Brett Combs, Neutron Scattering Measurements on 23Na at En=3.20 and 3.57 MeV, (2012).

  • Jeffrey Schniederjan, "Fe-56 Gamma-ray Production Cross Sections from 1.5 to 4.0 MeV", no thesis.
  • Laura Downes, "Na-23 Gamma-ray Production Cross Sections from 1.5 to 4.0 MeV", no thesis.
  • Jessie Girgis, "Evaluation of Background Produced by the T(p,n)3He Reaction in Neutron Detector Efficiency Measurements', no thesis. 
  • Anthony Sigillito, "Neutron Scattering Measurements on 23Na and Normalization Tests," no thesis (2011).
  • Collin Lueck, "Fitting Neutron TOF Spectra With Multiple Neutron Groups," no thesis (2010).
  • Luke Kersting, "Neutron Elastic and Inelastic Scattering Studies of NatFe and 23Na at En= 3.57 MeV and 3.86 MeV." (2010)
  • Peter McDonough, "Testing Procedures and Detectors for Neutron Elastic and Inelastic Scattering Measurements", no thesis (2010).

Student projects funded by the National Science Foundation:

  • J. C. Boehringer, "Decay Properties and State Lifetimes in 128Te from Inelastic Neutron Scattering" (2002).
  • Matthew Burns, "Nuclear Structure Study of 122Te through Inelastic Neutron Scattering" (2002).
  • Meghan M. Walbran, "Low-Energy Excited Levels of 122Te through Gamma-ray Spectroscopy Following Inelastic Neutron Scattering (1999).
  • Beth Sklaney, "Electromagnetic Transition Rates and Multi-phonon Excitations Observed in the Cerium-140 Nucleus (1999).
  • Gary Alexander, "Lifetimes of 122Te Excited Levels Using the Doppler-Shift Attenuation Method, (1998).
  • Corey Collard, "Analyses of Gamma-ray Transitions from 122Te Excited Levels, (1998).
  • Steve Etzkorn, "Decay Properties and Lifetimes of States in 124Te from (n,n'g) Reaction Studies ", (1997).
  • William Faulkner, "Electromagnetic Transition Rates Observed in the Stable Te Isotopes" (1995).
  • Carl Lundstedt, "Aiding in the Determining of the Excited States of 142-Ce Through the Use of Fortran Programming", (1993).
  • Christopher J. Bennett, "A Study of Calibration Techniques and the Relative Yields of Escape Peaks in 152-Eu and 56-Co", (1992).
  • Eric Meier, "Inelastic Neutron Scattering on 140-Ce and 142-Ce", (1991).

Theses supervised by Dr. Hicks, but research conducted at other universities in REU programs.

  • Michael Hoff, "Charging and Interaction of Two-Particle System within a Glass Box Immersed in a Low-Vacuum Argon Plasma, " Research conducted through the REU program at Baylor University (2014).
  • Jack Bredemann, "Using RPC Data to Assist CSC Data when Dealing with Pt Assignment," Research conducted through the REU program at the University of Florida (2014).
  • Elizabeth Sizemore, "Methodologies for Analyzing Motion Data in Humans," Research with Dr. Stephen Slaughter University of Dallas (2014).
  • Mary Catalano, "Identifying Inertial Modes in a Hide-Titman Flow" (2011).  Research conducted through the REU program at the University of Maryland.
  • Zofia Kaminski, "Particle Tracking of Fluorescent Microspheres" (2011).  Research conducted through the REU program at the University of Minnesota.
  • Christen Racciato, "Crystallization of Germanium for Use in Solar Cells" (2011).  Research conducted at the South Dakota School of Mines.
  • Anthony Sigillito, "The Design and Fabrication of Bismuth Hall Effect Biosensors" (2011) Research conducted through the REU program at Virginia Tech.
  • Natalie Weisse, "Expression and Manipulation of AquaporinZ in vitro Using the Cell Free System" (2011).  Research conducted at the REU program at the University of Minnesota.
  • Monica Lacy, "Improvements in Positron Accumulation Technique at ATRAP" (2010).  Research conducted at CERN through the REU program at the University of Michigan.
  • Peter McDonough, " Iridium Satellite Signal Exploitation" (2010).  Research conducted at Southwest Research Corporation in San Antonio, TX.
  • Annette Borchard, "East Antarctic Ice Sheets: Potential for Sub-Glacial Water Based on Temperature Modeling" (2009). Research conduced at Penn State University.
  • Joseph Gilpin, "Influence of Magnetic Molecules on Electron Spin Scattering in InAs as Seen in Its Low Temperature Magnetoresistance" (2009). (Research conducted at Virginia Tech. University.)
  • David E. Solis, "The Effect of a Nematic Liquid Crystal Environment on the Alignment of the Conductive Polymer MEH-PPV as a Function of Polymer Chain Length" (2008). (Research conducted at Rice University.)
  • Gregory Robert Knutsen, "The structure of the Testing Edgeless Planar Detectors" (2008). (Research conducted at UT Southwestern.)
  • William Spearman, "Testing Edgeless Planar Detectors" (2008). (Research conducted at CERN through the REU program at the University of Michigan.)
  • Eric Pepin, "Interaural Coherence and Localization" (2007). (Research conducted at Michigan State University.)
  • Bridget McEwen, "Using Seismology to Map and Characterize the Glacial Bed in the Onset Region of Ice Stream D, West Antarctica" (2007). (Research conducted at Penn State University.)
  • Kristi Michels, "The 27Al(p,)28Si Reaction(2006). (Research conducted at Notre Dame University.)
  • Maria Bellon, Stabilizing the Frequency of an InGaAs/AlGaAs Laser Module (2005). Research conducted at the University of North Texas.
  • Levente Borvak, "Neutron/Gamma-ray Pulse Shape Discrimination Using a PSD Circuit" (2004). (Research conducted at Etvs Lornd University in Hungary.)
  • Stephanie Wissel, Skymaps for GALPROP Simulations of VHE Gamma Rays (2004). (Research conducted at the University of Chicago.)
  • Janessa Bechtel, "Losses in SRF Cavities" (2003). (Research conducted at the University of Notre Dame.)
  • Genevieve Wing, "Diffusion in the Presence of Adsorption in Organic Aerogels" (2003).
  • Claire Nerbun, "Two-Photon Fluorescence Microscopy and Deconvolution Analysis" (2002). (Research completed at Emory University.)
  • Brenda Martin, Insertion Complexes with Methyl-b-Cyclodextrin with Alkane Chains Confined in an Isolated Droplet of Water (2001). (Research completed at Lehigh University.)
  • Shelly Wark, "Sensitive Laser Detection of Environmental Pollutants" (2001). (Research completed at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.)
  • Elizabeth A. Reisinger, "Investigation of the Fundamental and Higher Order Modes of the APS Storage Ring Single Cell Cavity",(1993). (Research completed at Argonne National Laboratory.)
  • Patricia Suzanne Maska, "Development of Elastic Surfaces for Optical Estimation of Cell Traction Forces", (1992).
  • John Bauer, "Preliminary Results from a Search for a Superdeformed State in 188-Hg", (1990). (Research completed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.)