Student and Faculty Research


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 nameType of supportEligibility
Office of Undergraduate Researchequipment and travelall CWU students
College of the Sciences (COTS)equipmentall students with a major in COTS
Science Honors Programsummer stipend and equipmentmost science majors; must apply junior year
McNair Programsummer stipend/travelminority or first-generation students who plan to obtain Ph.D.
STEP Bridging Programstipend and equipmentnew 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 TitleStudent ResearcherFaculty MentorComments
A Computational Study of Tsunami Runup as a Function of Coastline MorphologyKevin EwellAndy PiacsekScience Honors thesis
Using The Force Concept Inventory to Improve Student Understanding of Frictional ForcesWilliam SizemoreBruce PalmquistReceived Outstanding Poster award at SOURCE 2009
Scattering of Plane Light WavesAdam HoukMichael BraunsteinPresented at SOURCE 2009
Binary Stars and Their Light Curves: Using Models to Determine the Sensitivity of CWU EquipmentMarilyn MagenisMichael BraunsteinSTEP project; presented at SOURCE 2009
Electronic Realization of the Logistic MapSami Abdul-WahidMichael BraunsteinPresented at SOURCE 2008
Electronic Realization of Chaotic SystemsTravis Petersen, Eric Kangas, Chris Parker, Evan Masters, Sami Abdul-Wahid, Jeff LeisethMichael BraunsteinReceived Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Award funding; presented at APS NW section 2008