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Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Looking to get into undergraduate research? There are many ways to participate!

Research is a key aspect of almost any physics major’s undergraduate experience. It is one of the best ways to explore your academic and career interests, develop marketable skills, and prepare yourself for your postgraduate pathway.

Two great institutions offering resources that help students get involved include The National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), and UT’s Office of Undergraduate Research.

If you are an incoming freshman, you can apply to the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) which offers a beginner-friendly on-ramp into a wide range of research “streams” (labs with different focuses) to help you get started as soon as your second semester at UT.

There is also an equivalent program called the Accelerated Research Initiative (ARI) for transfer students and sophomores and juniors who did not participate in the FRI.

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

Getting Involved in Research at UT

The Office of Undergraduate Research’s steps for getting involved at UT:

  1. Attend an Information Session
  2. Identify Possible Research Interests
  3. Find/Contact Faculty Members

Sample Email Format for Contacting Faculty:

Freshman Research Initiative

The program is meant to give freshmen a foot in the door of research. Students can explore a topic of interest while gaining actual research experience. 

Typically, you apply before you come to UT as a freshman. Each research group is called a “stream.” In the first Freshman fall semester, the FRI program holds a steam sort where students can get to know what each group does. Students then fill out an application and rank their preferred streams. They’ll then be notified of which one they get and the classes to register for.

The workload, requirements, and area of focus greatly depend on the individual stream. Importantly, some streams count for lab credit. For example, the Magnetic Matter stream can give you credit for both PHY 116L and PHY 115L if you continue for two semesters. Make sure to check the course catalog before registering, since this is subject to change.

At the time of writing, the Magnetic Matter stream with Dr. Markert is the only physics-focused stream. This group does work with electronics, superconductors, magnetism, nuclear magnetic resonance, and other materials-oriented experimentation. Students have the opportunity to garner experience in experimental physics and work within the Markert group throughout their undergrad.

The FRI also gives out research fellowships, and are submitted around spring break, so students have the potential to gain even more experience.

For student testimonial of each FRI stream, check out the UT Catalyst Unofficial FRI Guide.

For more information, visit the FRI Website.

TIDES Office

The TIDES Office aims to get students in touch with research and educational opportunities. They offer FRI, Science Sprints, experiential learning opportunities, the Inventors Program, etc.

For a comprehensive list of TIDES services, take a look at their website.

Directed Reading Program in Physics

The Directed Reading Program in Physics (DRP-PHY) is a mentor program that connects undergraduates with graduate students. The students work with their mentor to select an independent project – often based on but not limited to reading a book or articles. At the end of the semester, participating students will give a 15 minute talk on a topic or idea they learned from their project. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are eligible to participate (just need to have finished the physics 301-316 series of courses). Learn more about the program and application at their website.

Additional Resources

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