All physics and biophysics majors are encouraged to take an independent study so that they can learn about some advanced topic or do some original research. A research independent study is especially recommended for majors planning to go to graduate school since such a study often leads to a strong recommendation by the advisor (who has gotten to know the student well through collaboration) and sometimes leads to publications or talks at conferences that strengthen a student's application to graduate school. A research independent study also often is a first step toward completing an honors thesis.
There are three kinds of independent studies:
Please take the following steps to enroll in an independent study:
You should try to find an advisor a few weeks before the end of the semester preceding the semester during which you will actually do the independent study.
One way to find an advisor is to get suggestions from the Director of Undergraduate Studies or from a professor teaching one of your physics courses, but also feel free to browse the webpages of Faculty Research Advisors and Physics faculty and then make an appointment to meet with a professor whose research looks interesting to you, or who has expertise related to the topic you want to learn about (for a PHY 491 course).
Not all professors have time or resources to be an advisor, so you should identify several possible professors and not get discouraged if your first few attempts to find an advisor are not successful.
It is possible to have an advisor who is not in the Physics Department but your choice needs to be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.