The Physics Department encourages you to consider your senior thesis topic early. During your junior year, the physics senior December talks and spring poster session can suggest multiple possibilities. You may test a topic during your Physics 401 self-designed project.

The most successful topics are often extensions of ongoing faculty research or take advantage of existing faculty expertise and available equipment. Self-designed projects are riskier, as you yourself are responsible for formulating the motivating scientific questions. Seniors considering a self-designed proposal must prepare a detailed project proposal, including a literature review, and convince a faculty member to advise the project.

During the summer before your senior year, the physics chair will email you with possible projects suggested by the physics faculty and ask you to rank your top three choices. 

After receiving your preferences, the chair will then consult with the faculty to distribute advisors to seniors and report back to you, so you will know your project and advisor before the beginning of your senior year. Project limitations include:

  • Projects must extend our knowledge of physics using experiment or simulation or theory.
  • Explicitly prohibited are projects whose sole intent is the construction of an object (for example, a hovercraft) or projects which are tutorial courses (for example, solving a set of problems from a particular textbook).
  • Interdepartmental projects are possible for double majors and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • The resources for the project must be either available or readily acquired. Copeland funds can be a great resource, but all Copeland applicants must clearly describe a back-up plan in case they are not funded.