Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities

Looking for research?  You are in the right place!  Our research section provides guidance in finding research within or in conjunction with the Physics Department. If your research interests are still vague, use this site to help you familiarize yourself with current projects.  Students can receive unit credit for conducting research under physics faculty supervision (if research is outside the department, it may still be possible to get units - check with a major advisor to understand your options). In some cases, paid research positions may also be possible during the academic year and over the summer.  Paid positions typically require students to have some experience in the group's subfield.  If you have questions about finding research and/or want more information about the resources on this page, please drop in to see Kathy Lee (368 LeConte) or Amanda Dillon (374 LeConte).  

Finding Research

Many of the faculty members in our department have research opportunities for undergraduates.  To secure a position, students typically email several faculty members expressing interest in their research (please do some pre-reading to make sure you understand what they are working on!).  Don't worry if you don't hear back right away.  Faculty are very busy and it may require some polite follow-up to get a response.  You may also consider reaching out to graduate students that you know.  Many of them are in research and will likely know if there are positions available in their group.

Other common places for students to find research are at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), Space Sciences Lab (SSL), and Advanced Light Source (operated by LBL).  You can learn more about these resources below.  Our students also find research outside of the department in areas such as Chemistry, Nuclear Engineering, and Astrophysics.  Consult other departments for literature regarding their ongoing research projects.  

Finally, there are a lot of more general resources on campus that list research opportunities for undergraduate students.  Many are listed below (including a few "off campus" resources).  Don't forget to check your email!  We often send out research opportunities for students as well as post to the boards outside of the Student Services Office on the 3rd floor of LeConte Hall.

Resources to identify a research position

The National Science Foundation (NSF)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Programs. REUs support undergraduate research participation and encourage students to join research projects each summer at universities around the country. Detailed information is available at the NSF website. Click here for REU sites in the field of physics. 

SULI/Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship 

SULI is a research program for undergradutes that is sponsored by the Department of Energy.  There are three separate internship terms (Fall/Spring/Summer).  Each term has its own deadline.  Click here for term deadlines.  Applicants will need to supply a transcript, essay, and two letters of recommendation.  You can learn all about the SULI/LBL application process here.

Space Sciences Lab 

SSL is located just up the hill from campus at the top of Centennial Drive.  Click here for a list of the active research projects at SSL.  

Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP)

Highly motivated undergraduates may apply for semester or year-long opportunities to work closely with faculty mentors on faculty-led research projects. Undergraduates with a 2.0 GPA or above are eligible to apply and those selected may enroll in Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies (UGIS) 192 (1-4 units, P/NP). Limited funding is available over the summer as well.  Check the URAP website for Fall 2018 opportunities in late June.  Applications are due the first day of the second week of classes.   

Office of Undergraduate Research & Scholarships (OURS)

OURS is an on-line clearinghouse for information about undergraduate research opportunities and funding on the UC Berkeley campus. Their web site provides up-to-date information on undergraduate research programs, as well as links to summer opportunities and extra-campus programs. They are located in 5 Durant Hall. 

Opportunities at Other Universities

A very comprehensive guide to opportunities outside the Berkeley community was put together by Tiffany Reardon in the College of Engineering.  Please note, nearly all of these opportunities are available year-after-year, so please disregard "2017" in the document title.

Undergraduate Labortory at Berkeley - ULAB

ULAB works to make the transition into research at UC Berkeley less formidable and more accessible. Over the course of an academic year, program participants develop and execute a research project of their choice with the guidance of experienced undergraduate mentors. ULAB offers student positions to those interested in starting research and staff positions to those looking to get more involved in the research community.

Research Funding for Undergraduates

The Berkeley Physics Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (BPURS)

BPURS is designed to encourage Physics majors to engage in research. The Physics Department will award a monetary stipend to several physics majors involved in research with Physics faculty. Interested students must apply. Participants will be selected for the program by a committee of Physics faculty, based on evaluation of the student's enthusiasm and record, quality of the project, and level of involvement of the professor. Students selected for this program will be called Berkeley Physics Undergraduate Research Scholars. Faculty take their mentoring roles very seriously and will only sign-on students who are committed to their physics projects. The project may be a research paper, authorship on a published paper, or a senior thesis. For additional information and a copy of the application, see Kathy Lee (368 LeConte) or Amanda Dillon (374 LeConte).  Deadline for Fall 2018 will be Friday, Sept 7th.

Cal NERDS

Cal Nerds is home to many programs to encourage and support STEM undergraduates in research.  Click here to learn about scholarship and fellowship opportunities (and many other programs for students in STEM!). 

Haas Scholars

Students who are selected as Haas Scholars receive upwards of $12,600 to conduct their research.  Recipients are considered from all majors.  Three physics majors were selected as Haas Scholars in the current 2018-2019 cycle.  Click here to learn more about the application process.  

SURF/Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

The SURF program offers four different fellowships each with particular eligibility requirements. Learn more about the different fellowships here.

McNair Scholars Program

This program is for under-represented OR first generation college/low-income students who intend to pursue a PhD.  It funds an independent project and coaches them through the grad application process. Apply here.

Looking for an internship?

Career Center

Their career database Handshake for internship opportunities. You'll need to create an account and input a few details (major, expected grad date, etc.).  You can search by location, job title, company, industry, or particular skill.  Please make an appointment with Amanda Dillon (amjdillon@berkeley.edu) if you'd like your resume/CV reviewed in advance of your internship search.

The Segre Internship

The Segre internship is designed for undergraduate or graduate students who have taken the advanced laboratory course (Physics 111). It is a full-time eight-week commitment (during the summer) to work with faculty and professional staff in the laboratory; the goal is to develop new experiments to be used in future semesters in the Physics 111 laboratory. A modest amount of experience with electronic and laboratory equipment and experimental practices is necessary. Applications for the Segre Internship are available mid-April and due at the end of April every year. For more information and applications please contact Amin Jazaeri, (510) 642-5515.

Mentoring Opportunities

Student Mentoring and Research Teams (SMART)

SMART is a program that enables doctoral students to create mentored research opportunities for undergraduate students at UC Berkeley. The program provides summer funding for both graduate and undergraduate participants and opportunities to share research results on campus and at national conferences.  Click here to learn more and apply.