Research Opportunities

Westmont students have the opportunity to participate in research with physics faculty, during the school year and during the summer. Research opportunities also exist in the Santa Barbara area, and around the country. Below you'll find brief descriptions of some of these opportunities. Interested students should contact department professors.

Nuclear Physics Research :

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant, students have opportunity to participate in accelerator-based nuclear physics experiments at Michigan State University. Funded by two Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grants, Westmont College collaborated with 9 other colleges and universities to construct the large Modular Neutron Array (MoNA) and the Large multi-Institutional Scintillator Array (LISA) neutron detector arrays, which are currently housed at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) of Michigan State University. During the summer and fall of 2002, several Westmont students assisted in the construction, testing, and calibration of 16 large scintillation detectors that make up MoNA, and in summer and fall 2010 16 similar detectors for LISA. Now, current students have opportunity to travel to NSCL to participate in experiments using MoNA and LISA to investigate the properties of neutron-rich exotic nuclei.

Interested students should contact Dr. Rogers.

Cosmic Muon Detector Array (CMDA)

Westmont physics students have the opportunity to work with the Cosmic Muon Detector Array (CMDA), the first of its kind, modeled after the Modular Neutron Array (MoNA) at Michigan State University. Whereas MoNA is a neutron detector stationed in one of the experimental halls at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory for use in accelerator-based experiments, the main purpose of the CMDA first ever muon " wide-angle camera" device. Constructed during summer 2004, the CMDA is an ongoing project ultimately designed to accurately analyze and map a large section of the sky's cosmic muon flux. Participating students become acquainted with analysis techniques and procedure, equipment troubleshooting, computer scripting and program design, and operation of advanced data processing programs.

Interested students should contact Dr. Rogers.


Carroll Observatory, currently houses a 16" Newtonian Reflector Telescope, but will soon be replaced by a new research-grade 24-inch F/8 Cassegrain with Ritchey-Chr├ętien optics. The new instrument features more than twice the light-gathering power of the old one and nearly twice the resolving power, which will allow the formation of high-resolution CCD camera photographs.

Interested students should contact Dr. Sommermann or Dr. Thomas Wittemore


Nuclear Magnetic Moment Measurements:

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) program. Typically two students conduct (paid) summer research with Dr. Rogers in accelerator-based nuclear physics experiments. The actual experiments take place at external laboratories, including the Michigan State University National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, the 88" Cyclotron at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the TRIUMF Laboratory in British Columbia, Canada. Collaborators for these experiments include physicists from MSU, Rutgers, and LBL. For more details on experiments conducted at these laboratories, and collaborators involved, see the Nuclear Physics homepage.

Interested students should contact Dr. Rogers.