Student Research in Physics

Recent Projects

  • Summer 2017

    Keegan Orr: Absorption spectroscopy

  • Summer 2016

    Michael Highman, Keegan Orr: Building a Magneto-Optical trap

  • Summer 2015

    Ben Graber and Tyler Thompson: Cold ion traps

  • Summer 2014
    • 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
  • Summer 2013

    Michael Riggs and Ben Graber – Design and construction of external cavity diode lasers and implementation of atomic spectroscopy

Theory Group (Profs. David Robertson and Uwe Trittmann)

Work in theoretical physics centers on two main areas:

  • Visualizing Quantum Dynamics, Tyler N. Thompson (2017)
  • Using Precise Measurements of Muon g-2 to Constrain New Physics, Evan M. Heintz (2016)
  • Development of numerical tools for precision (“two-loop”) 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 in the analysis of ongoing experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.
  • 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.

REU Program Participants

Otterbein students also participate in NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates programs around the nation and the world. Recent experiences include:

  • Summer 2017

    Tyler Thompson

  • Summer 2016

    Tyler Thompson

  • Summer 2014

    Evan Heintz, Preventing Perturbations for g-2 (Muon g-2 Collaboration, Fermilab)

  • Summer 2013

    Tegan Johnson, Fermi National Accelerator Lab (Accelerator Division)

  • Summer 2011

    Jack Brangham, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Physics Department)

  • Summer 2009

    Justin Young, University of California, Davis (Physics Department)

  • Summer 2008

    Brandi McVety, 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.

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 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 of these 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.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation.

Recent Projects:

  • Summer 2018

    Brad Goff, Heather Tanner: Analysis of light production by cosmic-ray muons, detector and physics effects in MicroBooNE data. Jiyu Li: visualization of Cosmic Ray Tracker data in MicroBooNE

  • Summer 2017

    Brad Goff and Heather Tanner: Electric field simulation, bubble formation in liquid Argon, analysis of MicroBooNE data.

  • Summer 2016

    Brad Goff, Peter Watkins and Isabella Majoros: Analyzing the long-term behavior of the MicroBooNE detector, with Online Monitor tools as well as Michel electrons.

  • Summer 2015

    Peter Watkins and Isabella Majoros: Commissioning the MicroBooNE detector

  • Summer 2014
    • Philip Kellogg: Calibration of the MicroBooNE detector with Muon Decays
    • Peter Watkins: Construction and operation of a Remote Operations Center for the MINERvA experiment
  • Summer 2013

    Phillip Kellogg and Kodi Weikel – Monte Carlo studies of the MicroBoone liquid argon time projection chamber

  • Summer 2012

    Phillip Kellog and Curtis Brown – Development of event display software for the MINERvA and MINOS+ experiments

  • Summer 2011
    • Molly Clairemont – Reconstruction of the MINERvA energy scale with Michel electrons
    • Matthew Jamieson – Studies of reconstruction efficiency in the MINERvA detector
  • Summer 2010
    • Molly Clairemont – Search for Michel electrons in MINERvA
    • Jack Brangham – Search for two-track quasi-elastic neutrino events in MINERvA

Student/Faculty Research

You are also 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.