Summer Research at Carleton

Summer 2018 in the Physics and Astronomy Department

During the Summer of 2018 a limited number of research positions will be available. These positions will be paid the campus wide rate provisionally set at $4400 for ten weeks of work.


Students should contact the faculty member with whom they wish to work by February 15 and set up an appointment to discuss the research project and their qualifications for the job. Invitations to join a research group will be issued in early March. Student who receive invitations to join a research group must make a commitment before leaving campus for spring break.


Students offered a position will be required to do a spring term Special Project with their research advisor. Some Physics & Astronomy professors require more terms of academic research before a student is hired for summer work. These professors identify their summer research student(s) early in the academic year.

Faculty/Student Summer Research:

The Towsley Endowment and our current HHMI grant provide financial support for Carleton students working with Carleton science and math faculty on campus (or in the field) during summer and over winter break. Click HERE for more info!

Andres Aragoneses

I am looking for a student to do research in complex systems & optics. Complex dynamics can be found in neuronal behavior, in the brain, in transport networks, on twitter or Facebook, in earthquakes, in economy, … These systems are not related but they share some underlying dynamics. Unveiling similarities will push our understanding in their behavior. On the other hand, diode lasers are well known, practical and powerful tools that we can use to generate and study complex dynamics, that we can use to better understand other systems, such as neurons. In this research we would be analyzing, through statistical tools, the dynamics of these optical systems looking for connections with other complex systems.

Marty Baylor

I have several ongoing research projects for students interested in optics. Please contact me if you are interested in any of these projects. No prior coursework or research experience is required, only an eagerness to learn and delve into hands-on experimental work. I am currently looking for students to start in fall or winter term.

Holographic photopolymers and optofluidic devices: This project has several sub-projects occurring in parallel. Many of the current projects involve measuring and controlling the properties of my holographic photopolymer. Additional projects involve building refractometers and exploring other devices that involve optics and fluids that we might be able to miniaturize using my polymer. The possibility for short-term and long-term projects exists.

Lab development: I am interested in developing optics labs for use in upper-division optics courses. This project is ideal for a student who wants a short-term, hands-on project in optics (1-2 terms), but is not ready to commit to working into the summer.

Barry Costanzi

I’m currently looking for two summer students to work on two different experiments on small-scale magnetic structures and devices.

The first project is focused on understanding the magnetic characteristics of mesoscale (~100s of nm) magnetic structures, in particular looking at phase transitions between the magnetic ground state of square magnetic dots as a function of size, and also on activated random switching of the magnetization when the pinning energies become close to room temperature. Students would be tasked with taking electrical transport measurements under applied magnetic fields on samples fabricated at the Minnesota Nanocenter, using magnetoresistive effects to probe the magnetic structure. Initial results would likely lead to further iterations of sample fabrication, with opportunities for student design of new sample geometries based on previous experimental results.

The second project would involve imaging granular copper/cobalt samples using a magnetic force microscope (MFM), along with transport measurements of the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) of the samples to get a better grasp on how grain size, spacing, and shape effect the GMR. The MFM uses a very sensitive magnetic “finger” to detect magnetization in mesoscale samples, which can be used to distinguish the cobalt grains from the copper. Students would run the MFM to acquire images, and make the transport measurements. Iterations of sample fab would lead to decisions on varying fractional content of Co, annealing temperatures, etc.

Only a general familiarity with E&M is required for either project. Some LabView experience preferred, but not necessary. Please with email me at or swing by my office to chat if you’re interested!


Frank McNally

My research topics currently follow two avenues: 1) using cosmic-ray data from IceCube ( to look for nearby sources and/or the structure of the local galactic magnetic field, and 2) improving air-shower reconstruction using likelihood-based methods. In the past, I have also worked with the Carleton Summer Science Institute, where I taught a class on particle astrophysics and worked with students on a cell-phone-as-cosmic-ray-detector project (

Plans for the upcoming summer are uncertain, but it's possible I'll be looking for 1-2 students interested in astrophysics and science education. Programming experience is preferred as there will be a lot of it, but not a must for students willing to learn. Interested students could start as soon as spring term, and should email me at

Arjendu Pattanayak

This summer I expect to have one or two students working with me on the behavior of nonlinear quantum systems. If you have worked with me before the summer it is usually a good idea, but come by and talk to me about next year etc if you would like. Current research interests include trying to control quantum chaos, and to understand micro-energy harvesting in various different kinds of small devices. The work is both analytical and computational, and some students get going with few assumptions about their background.  Several sophomores and some first-year students have done really well in my group. I do like a commitment for at least 2 terms mostly because there is a learning curve and wrapping up things takes longer than expected usually. Travel to conferences to report on results is very likely. Some more information is at

Jay Tasson

A diverse set of opportunities exist for students to work with me on projects related to relativity testing (testing Lorentz symmetry). The big-picture goal of this line of research is to try to gain some information that would guide the merge of General Relativity and quantum mechanics into a single consistent theory, but most of the work involved is much more down-to-Earth.  The opportunities could involve a variety of activities ranging from data analysis to paper and pencil theory and span a variety of areas of physics (gravitational waves, relativistic quantum mechanics, laboratory gravity tests, ...).  There are also projects suited to a variety of backgrounds and skill levels. Even if you've just taken introductory physics, you may be qualified. For more information, see my web page and links there in, or talk to me!

Other 2018 Summer Positions

Summer Science Fellowships

The goal of the Summer Science Fellowship is to broaden participation of historically underrepresented groups (including gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and disabilities) in the sciences and math. Carleton Summer Science Fellows have the opportunity to work in a research lab either at Carleton or at another institution for at least two summers with a stipend of $4,300 each summer. Summer Science Fellows participate in group meetings and activities both before and after the summer research experience and are expected to enroll in the 1 credit Science Fellows Research Colloquium both in the spring before and the fall following their research experience.  Click here for more information! 

Kolenkow-Reitz Fellowship:

The Kolenkow-Reitz fellowship provides research support for Carleton students working with non-Carleton science and math faculty at another institution during the summer or over winter break. Click here for important information.

More descriptions will be coming soon!  In the meantime, check out the various special projects offered by faculty members that happen throughout the academic year here.