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 (due March each year) and McNair Scholars programs. You can also find job openings posted to the department’s “Research Opportunities” forum at (log in with your UnityID), which also has information about signing up for PY499 (research for credit, can serve as a Technical Electives or for Honors/Capstone credit).

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. Our currently-funded openings are always listed here, and these currently center around three NSF-funded projects: CMMI-2323341, DMR-2104986, EAR-2244615.

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.

Summer 2024 Research Internships

We are currently (February 2024) recruiting at least 2 paid summer research interns to work 10-15 weeks within the period May 13 through Aug 9. There will be a campus-wide undergraduate research symposium on July 26 at which students will present posters about their work.

Qualifications: currently a bachelor’s or master’s level physics, engineering, or geoscience student (or similar) with a desire to learn laboratory and data processing skills (Python or Matlab) in a diverse, collaborative environment, and contribute to ongoing research projects in soft condensed matter physics.

Available project topics include:

  • [POSITION NOW FILLED] work with a team of physicists and geoscientists to relate laboratory experiments (sound transmission and 3D microtomography) to field measurements (geophones, seismograms). We are aiming to answer the question Can listening to sound transmission through a granular material reveal information about how close the system is losing mechanical stability? Travel to perform field work or synchrotron data collection may be possible. Learning image-processing and/or signal-processing will be central to this project, and students with an interest in building and debugging electrical circuits would be able to additionally focus on developing instrumentation skills.
  • [POSITION NOW FILLED] perform laboratory experiments on photoelastic granular materials to answer the question Does Coulomb friction adequately describe how a contact between two grains supports loads but ultimately fails? Does accounting for particle compression and rotation improve our understanding? This project will involve significant programming (in Matlab or Python) to perform image-processing. You will gain experience working with Arduinos to control the experiment, but this hardware is already built and only small modifications are anticipated.
  • [availability TBD, hopefully during April] design and build a series of granular flow experiments in different geometries for testing in lunar gravity using the Bremen (Germany) or NASA Glenn drop tower during Fall 2024. The aim is answer the questions Which geometries would be best-suited to be part of the upcoming Artemis mission to the Moon’s surface? and How do flows in lunar vs. earth gravity compare? You will gain experience working towards both engineering and science aims, though instrumenting a new experimental prototype, in collaboration with the science mission team at NASA Glenn.

Pay: $15/hour for bachelor’s students, $20/hour for master’s students

Travel: For students traveling to NC from another state/country, I anticipate being able to provide round trip airfare. If the summer project requires travel from NC to other research sites, this would be fully covered by the grant.

Housing: In the past, students from outside NC State have been able to sublet a room in student apartments near campus. Guest housing from NC State is also available:

NC State students: Some additional funding opportunities exist, via the Office of Undergraduate Research. Please see for the summer and for the academic year. A key advantage of these funds is they can provide for a longer-term project than just the summer.