Recent Student Research Projects

The summer is a particularly good time for students at Luther to get involved in research with our faculty.  Each summer, an average of about 9 students per summer are on campus in paid research assistantships.  Many of these students continue on into the academic year with these research projects, and develop them into their work for the year-long Senior Project experience that we have in the Physics Department. 

The below provides brief descriptions of student research projects carried out at Luther College with our faculty over the past five years (2018-2022)

Summer 2022

  • Astrophysics:
    • Minh Nguyen, Suman Chapai, and Isaac Roberts searched for and characterized the light curves of variable star and binary star systems in Messier Cluster M23.
  • Numerical Methods:
    • Josh Muller worked on simulated collisions between ions in the solar wind and the atmosphere of comets entering the inner solar system.
  • Elementary Particle Physics:
    • Alain Nishimwe, Zella Wynsma, and Jack Moriarty studied charm meson decays as a means to assess the particle-identification capabilities of the Belle II Detector.
    • Sam Wilson studied bottomonium decays which involve charm meson as decay products using Belle I data.

Summer 2021

  • Astrophysics:
    • Thandeka Chaka, Owen Johnson, Darren Kremer, and Isaac Roberts searched for and characterized the light curves of variable star and binary star systems in Messier Cluster M23.
  • Numerical Methods:
    • Josh Muller worked on simulated collisions between ions in the solar wind and the atmosphere of comets entering the inner solar system.
  • Elementary Particle Physics:
    • Alain Nishimwe and Sam Wilson studied charm meson decays as a means to assess the particle-identification capabilities of the Belle II Detector.

Summer 2020

  • Astrophysics:
    • Suman Chapai, Mae Cody, Owen Johnson, Darren Kremer, Jacob Larson, Minh Nguyen, and Sam Wilson searched for and characterized the light curves of variable star and binary star systems in Messier Cluster M13.
  • Numerical Methods:
    • Thomas Mayerchak worked on simulated collisions between ions in the solar wind and the atmosphere of comets entering the inner solar system.
  • Elementary Particle Physics:
    • Nicholas Behrens, Aiden Berdahl, and Alain Nishimwe studied charm meson and baryon decays as a means to assess the particle-identification capabilities of the Belle II Detector.

Summer 2019

  • Astrophysics:
    • Rahul Bagga, Mae Cody, Owen Johnson, and Blake Krapfl searched for and characterized the light curves of variable star and binary star systems in Messier Cluster M23.
  • Numerical Methods:
    • Thomas Mayerchak worked on simulated collisions between ions in the solar wind and the atmosphere of comets entering the inner solar system.
  • Elementary Particle Physics:
    • Nicholas Behrens, Aiden Berdahl, and Linnea Lee-Brown studied charm meson and baryon decays as a means to assess the particle-identification capabilities of the Belle II Detector.
  • Tribology:
    • Abby Fahrenkamp, Alain Nishimwe, and Grace Seiler collaborated on projects in which the Luther College Atomic Force Microscope was used to study nanoscale effects of friction, and, additionally, to characterize the effectiveness of various coatings on AFM tips for reducing wear.

Summer 2018

  • Astrophysics:
    • Torger Jystad worked at Luther College using eclipse timing to search for evidence of a third body in a partially eclipsing binary system
    • Alex Pigarelli worked at Luther College assessing the feasibility of using annular aperture photometric approach to background subtraction in a crowded stellar field.
  • Numerical Physics:
    • Nell Himlie worked at Luther College on a project involving the numerical simulation of a realistic, physical spring and mass system.
  • Elementary Particle Physics:
    • Zach Martin worked at Luther College and at KEK in Japan on a study of the production of charm mesons in the decays of the chi_bJ states of bottomonium, using data from the Belle Collaboration
    • Tania Proksch worked at Luther College and at KEK in Japan, continuing her study of the inclusive production of charm mesons in electron-positron collisions, using data from the Belle Collaboration.
  • Tribology:
    • Keegan Danielson continued his research at Luther College on creating a MATLAB-based simulation of contact resonance experiments. Keegan modeled the contact resonance system using Euler-Bernoulli beam theory, which models the AFM cantilever as an extended elastic beam.
    • Lucas Ruge-Jones worked at Luther College on creating a MATLAB-based simulation of contact resonance experiments. Lucas modeled the AFM cantilever in the contact resonance system as a simple lumped mass simple harmonic oscillator model.