Join Us!

Prospective undergraduates, graduate students, or postdocs should contact Karen Daniels about current or upcoming employment opportunities.

Undergraduates: Consider applying for a Undergraduate Research Grant, and/or speak to me in person about other research opportunities during the school year or summer. These are usually paid through either grant funds or through Work-Study appointments. I am also happy to support student applications for summer internships through the NC Space Grant program. I post job openings to the department’s “Research Opportunities” forum at (log in with your UnityID to see the listings.) I also support PY499 projects.

Prospective graduate students: Please visit the Physics Graduate Program website for information about how to apply to the PhD program in the NC State Physics Department. Incoming students often have a teaching assistant appointment (TA) for the first year or two, and are then supported on a research grant.

Current and incoming graduate students: Please feel welcome to join our weekly lab meetings to learn more about our work, or just stop by to talk. Students from our group have successfully received NSF Graduate Research Fellowships (due October each year) and NC Space Grants (due March each year); I am always happy to work with students on developing their grant-writing skills.

Prospective postdocs from Germany: As a member of the Humboldt Foundation network, I am able to sponsor applications for their Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship program.

Research Credit Information for Fall 2020

The following granular physics projects are available for PY499/PY895 research credits, and can include a face-to-face component if this is needed to satisfy visa requirements. All projects are similar in that they use pre-COVID-19 data taken under polarized light to “spy” on internal forces within individual grains (you can see examples of such data throughout this site). Students will both work independently and collaborate virtually, building on existing laboratory data and work with an open-source photoelastic analysis code that is one of our group’s key scientific tools.

  1. Frictional Failure: The classic physics result that a block slides along a surface if the ratio of tangential to normal forces exceeds the friction coefficient is not sufficient to explain the onset of flow in a collection of frictional objects: for instance a sand dune or hopper of coffee beans. Our task this fall is to combine existing datasets with computational tools in order to quantify how material failure occurs: is there a single sliding or rolling friction failure criteria we can apply at the grain scale, or are the dynamics richer than that?
  2. Collective Failure: When the whole material fails, the system goes beyond grain-scale frictional failure to a collective rearrangement. We will seek ways to forecast the locations at which failure will take place, using tools drawn from network science as well as the result of the grain-scale analysis (above).