Undergraduate research is an essential component of a CWU education in the natural sciences. All physics majors (including B.S., B.A., and Dual Degree) must complete at least two credits of PHYS 495 (Undergraduate Research). The experience of conducting research provides students with a significant boost in the skills needed to succeed in graduate school and in the workplace.
Physics students at CWU work closely with their faculty advisors in all phases of the research process: planning and proposing the project; setting up and calibrating equipment; recording and analyzing data; and disseminating the results. All students are strongly encouraged to present the results of their research at the annual CWU Symposium On University Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). Students who have done exceptional work may also publish in a peer-reviewed journal.
Funding for Student Research
Central Washington University offers several modes of financial support for undergraduates who conduct research.
|Program name||Type of support||Eligibility|
|Office of Undergraduate Research||equipment and travel||all CWU students|
|College of the Sciences (COTS)||equipment||all students with a major in COTS|
|Science Honors Program||summer stipend and equipment||most science majors; must apply junior year|
|McNair Program||summer stipend/travel||minority or first-generation students who plan to obtain Ph.D.|
|STEP Bridging Program||stipend and equipment||new transfer student majoring in science, math, or engineering|
Many physics majors have participated in the Science Honors Program, which admits students on a competitive basis and pays for research during the summer. Science Honors students prepare an honors thesis that is bound and kept in the CWU library.
Undergraduate Research Projects
Current and recently completed
|Project Title||Student Researcher||Faculty Mentor||Comments|
|A Computational Study of Tsunami Runup as a Function of Coastline Morphology||Kevin Ewell||Andy Piacsek||Science Honors thesis|
|Using The Force Concept Inventory to Improve Student Understanding of Frictional Forces||William Sizemore||Bruce Palmquist||Received Outstanding Poster award at SOURCE 2009|
|Scattering of Plane Light Waves||Adam Houk||Michael Braunstein||Presented at SOURCE 2009|
|Binary Stars and Their Light Curves: Using Models to Determine the Sensitivity of CWU Equipment||Marilyn Magenis||Michael Braunstein||STEP project; presented at SOURCE 2009|
|Electronic Realization of the Logistic Map||Sami Abdul-Wahid||Michael Braunstein||Presented at SOURCE 2008|
|Electronic Realization of Chaotic Systems||Travis Petersen, Eric Kangas, Chris Parker, Evan Masters, Sami Abdul-Wahid, Jeff Leiseth||Michael Braunstein||Received Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Award funding; presented at APS NW section 2008|