Independent Study

The year-long senior thesis project, or senior Independent Study (I.S.), allows you to experience the beauty and cohesiveness of physics by working on an extended project closely with a faculty advisor. There are few projects, even though narrow in scope, that do not require a breadth of understanding and a dependence on the lecture and laboratory material covered in the major courses. Thus, the senior I.S. is an integral part of your education. It can provide a stimulating climax to your college career while, at the same time, it can be a defining introduction to your profession.


  • Shawn  Bowman
    Modeling the Optical Emission Line Profiles of Active Galactic Nuclei: Working Towards a Continuous Optical Classification Scheme Beyond Type1/Type2
  • Evan Hagedorn
    Understanding the Origin of Swelling Force in Organically Modified Silica
  • Nicolae Istrate
    Theoretical Resonance Calculations for the Isobaric Analogs 133Sn and 133Sb
  • Min Sung Kim
    Stopping Power Analysis of 37K, 44Cl, and 71Br Incident on a He: CO2 (9:1) Gas Target
  • Brian Maddock
    Modifying the Virasoro-Shapiro Amplitude to Correspond to the Glueball Trajectory
  • Saul Propp
    Relativistic Perturbations and Ontological Implications: Exploring the Zitterbewegung and Laying the Groundwork for a Quantum Ontology
  • Jairaj Ranchod
    Archimedes Drill Propulsion
  • Joseph Smith
    Topological Defects in Nematic Liquid Crystals and the Behavior Induced by Adding Polystyrene Microspheres to 5CB
  • Amanda Steinhebel
    Solitons and Their Symmetries: A Mathematical Analysis
  • Elliot Wainwright
    Avalanches on a Critical Conical Bead Pile: Exploration of Tuning Parameter Space and Mathematical Foundations


  • Benjamin Harris
    Establishing Methods to Track Surface Avalanches on a Bead Pile
  • Vanessa Logan
    Worlds as Real as Ours: Image Processing and Differential Photometry of Transiting Exoplanets
  • Danielle Shepherd
    Go with the Flow: Developing Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulations According to the Navier-Stokes Equations
  • Prakrit Shrestha
    Universe from Scratch: Exploring Quantum Gravity in 2+1 Dimensions Using the Causal Dynamical Triangulation Method
  • Deepika Sundarraman
    The Manipulation of Transverse Spatial Mode and Polarization Degrees of Freedom of Light in an Asymmetric Interferometric System

2013 Senior Independent Study Titles

  • Theresa Albon
    The Entanglement and Relaxation of Liquid Crystal Shaped Granular Media
  • Daniel Axe
    Temperature's Effects on Expansion Force of Osorb®
  • Andrew Blaikie
  • Lilianna Christman
    The Effects of a Magnetic Field on a Conical Bead Pile
  • Lorenzo Dumancas
    Optimization of BEEM Techniques
  • Thomas Gillis
    Manipulation of Transverse Photonic Degrees of Freedom via Classical and Hong-Ou-Mandel Interference
  • Samuel Mermall
    The Motion of a Flapping Flag: Chaos or Noise?
  • Duncan Price
    Liquid Body Armor and Shear Thickening Fluids
  • Tyler Rhoades
    Differential Photometry of Transiting Exoplanets
  • Michael-Erik Ronlund
    Sorting Spatial Wavefunctions of Photons by Parity
  • Syne Salem
    Spacetime: Engineering and Metaphysics
  • Matt Schmitthenner
    A Theoretical and Experimental Pattern Analysis of Electrohydrodynamic Convection in a Liquid Crystal System
  • Karl Smith
    Electrons Aligned and Felines Undefined: Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics and Perturbing the Spin-Orbit Interaction in Electrons
  • Andrew Sopher
    Head for Safety
  • Philip Wales

2012 Senior Independent Study Titles

  • Mohammad Saif Ahmad
    Parity-based Measurement and Control of the Spatial Wave Function of Photons
  • Patrick Butler
    Air Drag and External Ballistics
  • Matt Damon
    Progress toward Using an Optical Tweezer to Make Scattering-based Size Measurements
  • Sarah-Beth Loder
    Experimentally and Computationally Determining the Theoretical Aqueous pKa of Three UV-absorbing Benzophenone Derivatives
  • Alyse Marquinez
    The Rocket Science Behind the Political Science: Comparing Space Visions fo the Presidents from 1993-2011 and the Rocket Technology That Helped Characterize Them
  • Katsuo Maxted
    A Cyclic Aero-mechanical Array of One-way Coupled Oscillators
  • Larry Markley
    Perturbing Spacetime
  • Margaret Raabe
    Manipulation of a Photon's Spatial Wave Function
  • Kemal Ramic
    Monte Carlo Simulations of the Clumpy Torus in Active Galactic Nuclei
  • David Simpson
    Analysis of the Correlation Length Amplitude of Nitrobenzene and Dodecane Binary-Fluid Solution

2011 Senior Independent Study Titles

  • Louisa Catalano
    Tighten Up: A Preliminary Study of Knots
  • Amanda Logue
    Understanding the Expansion of a Swellable Silicate
  • Roger Klein
    A Study of the Structure/Function Relationship of NicF in the Bordetella bronchiseptica Nicotinic Acid Degradation Pathway
  • Alex Saines
    // Order and Chaos in the Rotation and Revolution of Two Line Segments
  • Daniel "Alex" Sullivan
    Determining the clumpy nature of the toroidal region: An analysis of X-ray emissions from active galactic nuclei
  • Ingrid Thvedt
    Exploration of the Effects of Cohesive Forces in a Bead Pile

2010 Senior Independent Study Titles

  • Corwin Atwood-Stone
    Accretion Features of AU Mon
  • Alison Huff
    Examining the Characteristics of 17R4 Using Refractive Indices and Dynamic Light Scattering
  • Heather J. Moore
    Continuous Wave Cavity Ringdown Spectroscopy
  • R. Michael Winters
    The Two-Higgs Doublet Model and Sonification: Using Sound to Understand the Origin of Mass (Physics and Music)

2009 Senior Independent Study Titles

  • Averell Gatton
    The Brain vs. Rule 137: Using Spacetime Patterns to Classify the Complexity of Cellular Automata
  • Matt Gorski
    The Consistent Histories Interpretation as a Solution to the Quantum Measurement Problem (Physics and Philosophy)
  • Evan Heidtmann
    A Differential Equations Model of Insulin Spherulite Growth and a Surprising Connection to Algebraic Topology (Physics and Math)
  • Frank King
    /. (Physics and Math)
  • Mary Elizabeth Mills
    Self-Organized Criticality and the Effects of Pseudo-Randomly Dropping Beads onto a Bead Pile
  • Martha Roseberry
    Finicky Freezing: Investigations into the Causes of the Mpemba Effect
  • Henry Timmers
    The Construction of a Continuous Wave Cavity Ringdown Spectrometer
  • Mike Zappitello
    A Fractal Model of Protein Aggregation (Physics and Math)
  • Mark Zimmerman
    Percolative and Conductive Properties of Spherical Mixtures

Read the abstracts to these Senior Independent Study theses and more at our department website.