Student Research in Physics

Physics students at Otterbein are  encouraged to participate in research with a faculty member, which, depending on interests, may start as early as the freshman year. Physics faculty members are active in a variety of experimental and theoretical areas.

On this page:

Recent Projects

Links below go to Honors and Distinction theses in the Otterbein Digital Commons. * indicates winner of annual best Honors Thesis award.

2020: Alexander C. Clevinger: Constraining Neutron Star Nuclear Equations of State Based on Observational Data

2019: Bradley Goff: Long-Lived Scintillation Light from Cosmic Ray Muons in a LArTPC *






  • Philip Kellogg: Calibration of the MicroBooNE detector with Muon Decays
  • Peter Watkins: Construction and operation of a Remote Operations Center for the MINERvA experiment
  • Ben Graber: Measurement of the hyperfine energy splittings in the 5P_{3/2} manifold of levels in rubidium
  • Michael Highman: Design and construction of an ultrahigh vacuum system for cold atom experiments

In addition to work at Otterbein, students also regularly participate in NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates programs around the nation and the world. Recent examples include:

  • BYU
  • University of Utah
  • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • University of California at Davis
  • CERN, Geneva, Switzerland (LHCb Collaboration)

Students have also participated in research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy, Argonne National Laboratory, the McNairs Scholars Program at the University of Maine, and the summer research program at the Kent State University Liquid Crystals Institute.

Theory Group (Profs. David Robertson and Uwe Trittmann)

Development of computational methods and tools for precision calculations of particle properties in quantum field theory, most notably for theories involving “supersymmetry,” a symmetry relating particles of different spins that may be an integral part of the most fundamental theories of physics. Such tools are needed and used in the analysis of ongoing experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.

Variational methods in strongly interacting quantum systems, in particular as an approach to understanding and modeling the structure of hadrons and nuclei.

Work on the “light-cone” formulation for quantum field theory, as a basis for the development of new non-perturbative methods of calculation in strongly interacting systems. This approach involves formulating quantum field theory on a null plane, which can lead to certain dramatic simplifications. Current work is focused on detailing the relation between the light-cone and standard “equal-time” formulations, and studying the approach in low-dimensional test models.

Quantum mechanical wavefunction of a bound state of strongly interacting particles in two dimensions, as a function of the momentum fractions of the particles. It is highly symmetric and shows how momentum is distributed among the constituents.

Neutrino Group (Prof. Nathaniel Tagg)

See more at

Neutrinos are subatomic particles that exist in huge numbers in the universe, but interact with matter so rarely that examination of their properties is a major scientific challenge. We work with collaborations of scientists to build machines weighing many thousands of tons that observe only small handful of particles. These particles have surprising properties.

The MicroBooNE experiment is looking to resolve a strange conundrum of low-energy electron-like events appearing in the short-range Booster Neutrino Beam at Fermilab. The DUNE experiment is huge new initiative to build a massive detector in South Dakota to measure neutrinos from a new beam line in Fermilab.  Both experiments use the Liquid Argon Time Projection Chambers to develop high-resolution images of neutrino interactions.

Our group, in part, works on visualization software like Argo and Arachne, as well as developing tools for detector monitoring, detector physics, and calibration. We also work on construction database tools for helping with the massive infrastructure in building a $2.6 billion experiment.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation.