Undergrad Previous USRA Projects

2017 USRA Projects

1. Medical Image Analysis and Machine Learning

Contact - Dr. Vesna Sossi              Email - ves...@phas.ubc.ca

Job Description:

The successful candidate will work as part of the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) brain imaging group at the UBC’s Centre for Brain Health. The focus of our group’s research is the imaging-based investigation of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological disorders. PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder (after Alzheimer’s disease) with unknown origin. The disease affects several million people globally, and there is currently no cure. In our group, we investigate functional manifestations of the disease in-vivo through acquisition and analysis of 3D brain images (PET and MRI) of healthy control and PD subjects. Image analysis is performed in relation to the subject’s clinical assessments. Using machine learning and statistical techniques, clinical data and data derived from the images are used to better understand the disease progression pattern and to predict the personalized clinical outcome, with the hope to attain a progressively better understanding of the disease, which may eventually contribute to finding a cure.

In this position the student will have the opportunity to:

  • Use established machine learning techniques to identify and analyze patterns in the high-resolution PET/MRI images of the brain that are related to clinical symptoms of PD.
  • Investigate methods that improve the quantitative accuracy of the imaging data, such as image filtering and segmentation.
  • Help in identifying image features that correlate significantly with the progression of clinical symptom severity.
  • Learn about the basics of PET imaging, image processing, and quantitative image analysis techniques.
  • Learn about different aspects of quantitative brain imaging and data analysis by participating in various research projects (time permitting).
  • Prepare a written or oral presentation of their work.

Qualifications:

  • Background in computer science, physics, statistics or related disciplines, with an interest in biological or medical applications.
  • Previous programming experience (any language) is required. Familiarity with rapid scripting environments (Matlab or Python) is a plus.
  • Must understand the basics of computational algorithms and data types.
  • Previous experience with image segmentation, registration, and feature extraction is a plus.
  • Previous experience with supervised and unsupervised machine learning, data classification and clustering is a plus.
  • Able to work independently to solve problems, pay attention to details and perform quality control.
  • Good written and oral communication skills.
  • Upper year students preferred.

2. Medical Image Analysis - Image denoising techniques

Contact - Dr. Vesna Sossi              Email - ves...@phas.ubc.ca

Job Description:

The successful candidate will work as part of the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) brain imaging group at the UBC’s Centre for Brain Health. The focus of our group’s research is the imaging-based investigation of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other neurological disorders. PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder (after Alzheimer’s disease) with unknown origin. The disease affects several million people globally, and there is currently no cure. In our group, we investigate functional manifestations of the disease in-vivo through acquisition and analysis of 3D brain images (PET and MRI) of healthy control and PD subjects. In general, PET images are noisy, and image-based analyses are very sensitive to noise. Therefore, improving the signal-to-noise ratio in PET is highly desirable. Novel image reconstruction methods which incorporate de-noising directly within the reconstruction task have been developed in our group, and determining the optimal reconstruction parameters is essential for improving the accuracy and precision of the reconstructed PET images used in our imaging applications. 

In this position the student will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the basics of PET imaging, image processing, and how quantitative PET images are reconstructed.
  • Learn about the evaluation techniques for comparing different image reconstruction methods.
  • Evaluate the newly developed image reconstruction methods using phantom studies and determine the optimal reconstruction parameters using bootstrapping method at various counting statistics.
  • Apply the obtained optimal parameters to reconstruct clinical high resolution PET data sets.
  • Learn about different aspects of quantitative brain imaging and data analysis by participating in various research projects (time permitting).
  • Prepare a written or oral presentation of their work.

Qualifications:

  • Background in computer science, physics, statistics or related disciplines, with an interest in biological or medical applications.
  • Previous programming experience (any language) is required. Familiarity with rapid scripting environments (Matlab or Python) is a plus.
  • Must understand the basics of computational algorithms and data types.
  • Previous experience with image reconstruction, segmentation, and registration is a plus.
  • Able to work independently to solve problems, pay attention to details and perform quality control.
  • Good written and oral communication skills.
  • Upper year students preferred.

3. Statistics of CMB polarization

Contact - Dr. Douglas Scott             Email - dsc...@phas.ubc.ca

An important goal of modern cosmology is to determine if all the structure in the Universe formed through an early inflationary phase. In order to do this, exquisitely sensitive studies of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background are needed. However, the CMB signals can be confused by emission in the foreground, from dusty regions in our Galaxy. In this project we will study aspects of sky polarization, and investigate statistical techniques that can be used to distinguish the signals. This will involve using data from existing experiments, such as the Planck satellite or the BLAST-Pol balloon flights, as well as simulations of the microwave sky.

4. The Quantum Degenerate Gas (QDG) Lab

Contact: Kirk W. Madison [http://www.phas.ubc.ca/~madison/]        Email: madi...@phas.ubc.ca

The quantum degenerate gas (QDG) lab [http://www.phas.ubc.ca/~qdg] is developing two experiments involving laser cooled atoms.  The first is a novel quantum sensor for detecting particles in a vacuum and the second is a device capable of generating quantum degenerate gases of Rb and Li atoms designed to experimentally observe pairing phenomena in Fermi and Bose gases (a phenomenon intimately tied to superconductivity in electronic materials).  We are therefore seeking an undergraduate physics or engineering physics student to contribute to our research program in 2016. Projects will depend on the applicant's interest and experience and may involve both hardware development (optical, electronic, and mechanical) and experimental work (data taking and data analysis).  Please contact Prof. Madison to discuss the possibilities.  Examples of previous undergraduate publications and projects (including honour's thesis projects) can be found here (http://www.phas.ubc.ca/~qdg/publications/).

5. Data Analysis for the TREK experiment at J-PARC

Contact - Mike Hasinoff      Email - hasi...@physics.ubc.ca

The goal of our TREK experimental program is to search for New Physics beyond the Standard Model ( possibly SUSY ). We have constructed a 256 element scintillating fibre target at TRIUMF for a Kaon Decay experiment which we carried out at the J-PARC accelerator in Japan in 2015.  The successful student will help us analyze the multi-parameter event data using the CERN software package "ROOT". He/She should have some programming experience and a basic understanding of the LINUX operating system. The student will be located at TRIUMF and be able to participate in all the student activities organized by the TRIUMF summer students.

6. Laboratory for Atomic Imaging Research - Vibration Testing and Tuning

Contact - Doug Bonn      Email - b...@phas.ubc.ca

A new set of ultra-low vibration facilities is being completed in the Quantum Matter Institute's new building extension. These consist of massive 100 Tonne concrete slabs, some of them floating on large air-springs. As part of the process of getting these labs running, we will be doing extensive testing of vibration amplitudes in a number of these facilities, as a function of frequency, time-of-day-and other factors. The project will include a mixture of measurements and modelling, plus a chance to work on a range of hardware projects associated with the scanning Tunneling Microscopy Labs.

7. Laboratory for Atomic Imaging Research - Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Projects

Contact - Doug Bonn      Email - b...@phas.ubc.ca

Several hardware development and measurement projects are available this summer. An example on he hardware side is the development of a sample holder that is compatible with both an existing ultra-low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and a molecular beam epitaxy system that will be used for in situ film growth in ulta-high vacuum.

8. Laboratory for Atomic Imaging Research - SPM characterization of defects in graphene

Contact - Sarah Burke    Email: sabu...@phas.ubc.ca

The local structure and defects in graphene can have either weak or strong modifications on the electronic properties.  An ultrahigh vacuum room temperature SPM system is being commissioned for characterization of surface structure of graphene, molecular monolayers and other samples.  Completion of the commissioning of both the STM and AFM capabilities and study of defects in graphene with this instrument will be carried out this summer.  Opportunities to engage in some of our other projects and work with other instruments are also possible.

9. Super-rotors

Contact: Valery Milner (vmil...@phas.ubc.ca">vmil...@phas.ubc.ca; webpage: http://coherentcontrol.sites.olt.ubc.ca/ )

Our research group on Quantum Coherent Control uses ultrafast lasers to control and study the behaviour of molecules and their interaction with classical and quantum environments, e.g. beams of light, external magnetic fields or ensembles of other molecules. We are currently actively investigating new exotic molecular objects – the so-called molecular "super-rotors", produced in our laboratory using a unique laser system known as an "optical centrifuge". The centrifuge spins up molecules to extremely fast rotational frequencies, inaccessible through any other means of rotational excitation. Many fascinating properties of molecular super-rotors have been theoretically predicted. A few of them have been shown by our group in the last two years, but many more await discovery. In the summer of 2017, we will be working on: (1) the possibility of amplifying electro-magnetic (THz) waves in the gas of molecular super-rotors with a permanent electric dipole moment; (2) the prospect of spin-polarizing molecular nuclei with an optical centrifuge for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies; and (3) the investigation of molecular super-rotors embedded in the quantum nano-droplets of superfluid helium.

10. Understanding the magnetic resonance imaging signal from myelin in brain

Contact: Alex MacKay        Email: mac...@physics.ubc.ca

Our laboratory designs and implements magnetic resonance imaging techniques for the detection and characterization of brain tissue in humans. In particular, we work on magnetic resonance sequences sensitive to myelin- the insulation of nerves in brain. Loss of myelin occurs in many neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. Our experimental techniques involve measuring and interpreting the signal from water in brain. This summer position will involve the comparison of two magnetic resonance techniques designed to measure myelin content in brain. The student will learn about magnetic resonance imaging and about how MRI can provide specific information about myelin in brain.

11. ATLAS Project 1

Contact: Alison Lister       Email: alis...@phas.ubc.ca

The ATLAS UBC group has developed a deep learning technique for identification of highly boosted top quarks using low level jet features. We are currently studying the performance of this method on real ATLAS data. The student will work on further improvements to the method as well as developing techniques for mitigation of the impact of the systematic uncertainties on the deep learning model through construction of purpose engineered training samples and application of adversarial training.

12. ATLAS Project 2

Contact: Alison Lister       Email: alis...@phas.ubc.ca

The ATLAS UBC group is participating in construction of the Silicon-based tracker strip detector for the High-Luminosity upgrade of the LHC. CMOS is very promising technology for construction of such large-scale detectors. The student will participate in the developement of firmware and software as well as the test stand for a prototype CMOS sensor - the CHESS-II and characterise module performance.

13. Hubble Space Telescope

Contact: Harvey Richer   Email: ric...@astro.ubc.ca

Professors Richer and Heyl are interested in supporting several USRA students to work on Hubble Space Telescope data. The data consist of images of very ancient star clusters in our galaxy and the science they hope to work on involves the ages and dynamics of the stars in these systems. Additionally, they are planning for the next generation of space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, and work towards projects on this telescope will also be undertaken.

2016 USRA Projects

1. CHIME

Contact - Mark Halpern, Gary Hinshaw, or Kris Sigurdson     Email - hal...@phas.ubc.ca, hins...@physics.ubc.ca, or k...@phas.ubc.ca

We are building a novel radio telescope designed to measure the recent dark energy-driven acceleration of the expansion of the Universe.  It is called CHIME, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity-Mapping Experiment and it consists of radio interferometers sitting along the focal lines of large cylindrical reflectors.  The instrument, which has no moving parts, will map half the sky as the Earth turns.

Over the spring and summer we will be installing and testing antennas, low noise amplifiers, and a digital correlator on the full CHIME instrument we are building at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, BC.  We will also be analyzing data from a Pathfinder version of the instrument that is currently being commissioned.

2. Data Analysis for the TREK experiment at J-PARC

Contact - Mike Hasinoff      Email - hasi...@physics.ubc.ca
  
The goal of our TREK experimental program is to search for New Physics beyond the Standard Model ( possibly SUSY ). We have constructed a 256 element scintillating fibre target at TRIUMF for a Kaon Decay experiment which we  carried out at the J-PARC accelerator in Japan in 2015.  The successful student will help us analyze the multi-parameter event data using the CERN software package "ROOT". He/She should have some programming experience and a basic understanding of the LINUX operating system.

3. Ultrafast Spectroscopy Lab

Contact - David Jones       Email - djjo...@phas.ubc.ca

The ultrafast spectroscopy lab has an opening for summer 2016 for an undergraduate physics or engineering physics student to contribute in our efforts of developing world-unique ultrafast (femtosecond) extreme ultraviolet laser sources and using them to probe photovoltaic devices as well as other condensed matter material devices. In the coming year some possible specific projects toward this end include:

            -building and characterizing a femtosecond pulse optical fiber amplifier as a seed for our second generation XUV femtosecond source.

            -participate in design and construction and this second generation XUV femtosecond source.

            -helping to characterize/calibrate the photoelectron spectrometer we are using for time-resolved quantum materials studies.

The first two topics are a bit more engineering based as they involve constructing instruments with both optical and electronic skills. In addition, there will be other possibilities more physics in nature (such as participating in photoemission spectroscopy of doped graphene and topological insulators) but we can’t be sure of the exact nature of them until closer to the summer.

4. Hubble Space Telescope

Contact: Harvey Richer      Email: ric...@astro.ubc.ca
 
Work with Hubble Space Telescope data. Professor Harvey Richer has been carrying out a series of observations of ancient star clusters with the Hubble Space Telescope. The data are imaging observations and often are the best available for any given star cluster. There are a wide range of projects that can be executed with these data: the age of the cluster, its dynamical state, how its stars evolve, tests of fundamental physics. Joining Professor Richer’s research group for the summer will expose you to this research, and who knows, you may discover something completely unexpected.
 

5. The Universe on the largest scales

Contact: Douglas Scott        Email: dsc...@phas.ubc.ca

The Planck satellite has mapped the cosmic microwave background with unprecedented sensitivity, resolution and frequency coverage, mostly coming from an epoch when the Universe was only about 400,000 years old, and giving us cosmological information on the largest observationally-accessible scales.  At UBC we have been been using Planck data to investigate several different cosmology research areas, any of which could be the springboard for a self-contained undergraduate project. Examples include testing isotropy as a way of probing early Universe models, constraints on ideas for theoretical modifications to gravity, and correlations between CMB data and other cosmological data to understand large-scale structure.

6. Belle II high-energy physics experiment

Contact: Christopher Hearty        Email: hea...@physics.ubc.ca    Phone: 6048229163       Office: Hennings 268

This project is for the Belle II high-energy physics experiment. The experiment is located at the KEK laboratory in Japan, but the project will be at UBC in Vancouver. The student will work on developing new energy and time calibration techniques for the Belle II calorimeter using simulated cosmic rays. The student will develop skills in C++, python, and data analysis using the ROOT analysis package.

7. Understanding magnetic resonance signals from brain

Contact: Prof. Alex MacKay       Email: mac...@physics.ubc.ca

Our laboratory designs and implements magnetic resonance imaging techniques for the detection and characterization of brain tissue in humans. In particular, we work on magnetic resonance sequences sensitive to myelin- the insulation of nerves in brain. Loss of myelin occurs in many neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. Our experimental techniques involve measuring and interpreting the signal from water in brain. This summer position will involve learning about how magnetic resonance works and about techniques to analyse results from a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer and/or a magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

8. Numerical studies of strong coupled field theories

Contact: Prof. Moshe Rozali       Email: roz...@phas.ubc.ca

Investigation of gravity in asymptotically AdS spaces, dual to quantum field theory in (generally) spatially inhomogeneous and time-dependent backgrounds. Investigation of disorder and non-equilibroum conditions in strongly coupled field theories. Development of Python and C++ codes, based on a prototype Matlab code, to solve the resulting equations numerically.

9. ATLAS Experiment

Contact: Profs. Colin Gay and Alison Lister      Email: c...@phas.ubc.ca; alis...@phas.ubc.ca

The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at CERN in Geneva, has already completed an exceptional first run — recording an unprecedented amount of data at the highest energies ever achieved at a particle collider.  This has resulted in the recent discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. Last year we started taking data at almost twice the energy of the first run and we will continue to do so in 2016. This opens up previously inaccessible energy scales. The analysis of this new data may lead to several additional discoveries, such as the production and observation of Dark Matter in the lab, helping us understand the missing mass of the Universe; discovery of new types of particles; discovery of extra spatial dimensions previously unseen; or the discovery of new symmetries of nature; or something else all together. As well as analysing this new data, we need to start developing and building upgrades to the detector, in particular a new silicon tracking detector, part of which is happening at TRIUMF.  We are hiring two students to join our analysis team and take part in searching for new physics and/or building the next generation of detectors.

10. Contact: Prof. Jeremy Heyl        Email: h...@phas.ubc.ca

RHESSI Observations of the Soft-Gamma Repeater Hyperflare

The solar gamma-ray observatory RHESSI on 26 December 2004 was inundated with gamma-rays from a strongly magnetized neutron star from across our Galaxy.  This project would be to reanalyzed the data from RHESSI to understand the high-energy emission from the source in terms of theoretical models and possibly to find polarized emission from the source as well.  The student would compare the observational data with theoretical models and develop new theoretical models.  The student would also present their work at our weekly group meetings and learn about the latest results in high-energy astrophysics.  The skills that the student will develop include analysis of x-ray and gamma-ray observational data from RHESSI and Fermi and scientific computing skills.

HST Observations of Globular and Open Clusters (Stellar atmospheres)

Our group and others have observed the core regions of many globular and open clusters using the Hubble Space Telescope in the ultraviolet, visual and infrared.  These observations can provide unique and stringent tests of our theories of stellar evolution and stellar atmospheres.  The student will collaborate with our research group to include the effects of stellar atmospheres in the stellar evolution software.  The student will develop skills in modelling of stellar atmospheres, stellar evolution and the statistical interpretation of Hubble Data using their results.  The student would also present their work at our weekly group meetings and learn about the latest results in high-energy astrophysics.

HST Observations of Globular and Open Clusters (Stellar photometry)

Our group and others have observed the core regions of many globular and open clusters using the Hubble Space Telescope in the ultraviolet, visual and infrared.  These observations can provide unique and stringent tests of our theories of stellar evolution and stellar atmospheres.  The student will collaborate with our research group to develop a pipeline for stellar photometry that will provide accurate measurements of the flux of both bright and faint stars in the Hubble imagery.  The student will use the latest Hubble observations and will be able to compare their results with the standard photometric pipelines.  The goal here will be to automate the process and then use it to analyze the hundreds of images of clusters on our beowulf supercomputer.  The student would also present their work at our weekly group meetings and learn about the latest results in high-energy astrophysics.   The skills that the student will develop include analysis of observational data from Hubble, scientific computing skills and software development.

HST Observations of Globular and Open Clusters (Artificial Star Tests)

Our group and others have observed the core regions of many globular and open clusters using the Hubble Space Telescope in the ultraviolet, visual and infrared.  These observations can provide unique and stringent tests of our theories of stellar evolution and stellar atmospheres.  The student will collaborate with our research group to develop a pipeline to insert artificial stars into the Hubble images to measure the error distribution and completeness of the photometric pipeline.  The goal here will be to automate the process and then use it to analyze the hundreds of images of clusters on our beowulf supercomputer.  The student would also present their work at our weekly group meetings and learn about the latest results in high-energy astrophysics.   The skills that the student will develop include analysis of observational data from Hubble, scientific computing skills and software development.

10. The Quantum Degenerate Gas (QDG) Lab

Contact: Kirk W. Madison [http://www.phas.ubc.ca/~madison/]        Email: madi...@phas.ubc.ca

The quantum degenerate gas (QDG) lab [http://www.phas.ubc.ca/~qdg] is developing two experiments involving laser cooled atoms.  The first is a novel quantum sensor for detecting particles in a vacuum and the second is a device capable of generating quantum degenerate gases of Rb and Li atoms designed to experimentally observe pairing phenomena in Fermi and Bose gases (a phenomenon intimately tied to superconductivity in electronic materials).  We are therefore seeking an undergraduate physics or engineering physics student to contribute to our research program in 2016. Projects will depend on the applicant's interest and experience and may involve both hardware development (optical, electronic, and mechanical) and experimental work (data taking and data analysis).  Please contact Prof. Madison to discuss the possibilities.  Examples of previous undergraduate publications and projects (including honour's thesis projects) can be found here (http://www.phas.ubc.ca/~qdg/publications/).

11. Laboratory for atomic imaging research

Contact: Sarah A. Burke [http://lair.phas.ubc.ca] Email: sabu...@phas.ubc.ca

Our group uses ultrahigh vacuum low-temperature scanning probe microscopy to probe materials on atomic and molecular length scales.  This family of techniques is highly versatile and gives access to structural and electronic information for a wide range of materials: from superconductors to organic molecules.

We are starting a new effort to investigate catalytic activity of a metal-organic nanostructure.  This will require development of a gas dosing system and optical instrumentation to deliver controlled doses of gaseous reactants and expose the sample at low temperature to IR radiation.  Scanning probe microscopy experiments will then be conducted to determine if the reactants attach at the metal-organic structures, changes in structure and electronic structure, and progress of the reaction with dosing and temperature.

Other projects may also be available.  Please contact for more details and options.

12. Super-rotors

Contact: Prof. V. Milner (http://coherentcontrol.sites.olt.ubc.ca/)  Email: vmil...@phas.ubc.ca

Our research group on Quantum Coherent Control uses ultrafast lasers to control and study the behaviour of molecules and their interaction with classical and quantum environments, e.g. beams of light, external magnetic fields or ensembles of other molecules. We are currently actively investigating new exotic molecular objects – the so-called molecular "super-rotors", produced in our laboratory using a unique laser system known as an "optical centrifuge". The centrifuge spins up molecules to extremely fast rotational frequencies, inaccessible through any other means of rotational excitation. Many fascinating properties of molecular super-rotors have been theoretically predicted. A few of them have been shown by our group in the last two years, but many more await discovery. In the summer of 2016, we will be working on: (1) the possibility of amplifying electro-magnetic (THz) waves in the gas of molecular super-rotors with a permanent electric dipole moment; (2) the prospect of building an ultrafast magnetic switch in a gas of magnetic super-rotors; and (3) the design of a vacuum system in which molecular super-rotors will be embedded in the quantum nano-droplet of superfluid helium.

2015 USRA Projects

1.  Cross-correlations in Cosmology

Contact: Douglas Scott  Email: dsc...@phas.ubc.ca

Cosmological data-sets contain information about the largest scales that are observable, giving us the opportunity to constrain the parameters that describe the cosmological background, as well as probing how structure forms within the evolving Universe. The Planck satellite has mapped the entire sky at 9 wavelengths, providing the best current constraints on cosmological parameters, but also containing a wealth of information about "secondary" anisotropies related to structure formation. By correlating Planck with other astrophysical data-sets we can learn about gravitational lensing on large and small scales, gas within and outside galaxy clusters and the star-forming galaxies comprising the cosmic infrared background. Successfully tackling these issues will require a student with analytical and numerical skills, as well as a passion for cosmology.

2. CHIME

Contact - Mark Halpern, Gary Hinshaw, or Chris Sigurdson     Email - hal...@phas.ubc.ca, hins...@physics.ubc.ca, or k...@phas.ubc.ca

We are building a novel radio telescope designed to measure the recent dark energy-driven acceleration of the expansion of the Universe.  It is called CHIME, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity-Mapping Experiment and it consists of radio interferometers sitting along the focal lines of large cylindrical reflectors.  The instrument, which has no moving parts, will map half the sky as the Earth turns.

Over the spring and summer we will be installing and testing antennas, low noise amplifiers, and a digital correlator on the full CHIME instrument we are building at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, BC.  We will also be analyzing data from a Pathfinder version of the instrument that is currently being commissioned.

3. GPU implementation of planetary dynamics integrators.

Contact: Prof B. Gladman        Email - glad...@astro.ubc.ca

Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) are becoming powerful enough to potentially make them useful for forefront science problems in solar system dynamics and planetary formation. The applicant for this USRA should have the following skills: (1) studied introductory hamiltonian dynamics and nonlinear dynamics, (2) programming experience in C or Fortran, (3) have at minimum novice level experience with CUDA (or some other parallel programming environment). Some familiarity with planetary astronomy is helpful but not mandatory.

4. Observing Very Hot White Dwarf Stars with the Hubble Space Telescope

Contact: Prof. Harvey Richer      Emaill - ric...@astro.ubc.ca

New ultraviolet imaging observations with the Hubble Space Telescope have revealed a large number of very hot white dwarfs in the ancient star cluster 47 Tucanae. These observations can provide

information on the rate of cooling of these stars, their diffusion in the cluster and the possibility that comets or asteroids may be present around some of these stars. A prospective student can become in involved in any of these or other projects related to these observations.

5. The T2K (Tokai-to-Kamioka) Experiment

Contact: Prof. Hirohisa A. Tanaka       Email - tan...@phas.ubc.ca

The T2K (Tokai-to-Kamioka) experiment studies neutrinos produced by an accelerator on one side of Japan and sent to the Super Kamiokande detector 295 km away. During this transit, it is expected that neutrinos will undergo a phenomenon called neutrino oscillations where they change type, which may shed light on the matter/anti-matter asymmetry of the universe, i.e. how the universe evolved to its current matter-dominated state.The experiment recently published its first results on neutrino oscillations, which was proclaimed one of the "Top 10 Physics Stories of 2011". With the analysis of the data underway, there are many opportunities to study the neutrino interaction data taken in the experiment and to develop new algorithms to improve the performance and sensitivity of the experiment. There are also opportunities to design, develop, and test new photon detectors  for a next generation neutrino oscillation and proton decay experiment (Hyper Kamiokande).

6. Understanding magnetic resonance signals from white matter in brain

Contact: Prof. Alex MacKay       Email - mac...@physics.ubc.ca

Our group uses magnetic resonance imaging techniques to investigate pathological processes which occur in brain diseases. In particular, we have developed a technique for measuring the myelin component of white matter in brain. Myelin makes up the ‘insulation’ around neuronal axons and plays a key role in the normal transmission of nerve signals. This summer we shall be following two lines of research into myelin measurement by magnetic resonance 1) Detailed fundamental investigation of the magnetic resonance signals from ex vivo white and grey matter samples and 2) Analysis of in vivo myelin measurements from white matter in multiple sclerosis subjects to assess relationships between myelin content and brain functional measurements. 

7. Making cold and ultra-cold molecules

Contact: Prof. Taka Momose     Email - mom...@chem.ubc.ca

A student will help constructing experimental setup to make cold and ultracold molecules, and use laser systems to perform their spetroscopy.

(Note to students: This project is posted here for your information only. You will need to apply to Chemistry Dept USRA program if you wish to apply for this project.)

8. The formation of stony meteorite parent bodies

Contact: Prof. Aaron Boley, email: acbo...@phas.ubc.ca

The StarPlanD research team is seeking a summer student to work on the formation and evolution of meteorite parent bodies.  Depending on the background of the successful candidate, the project may involve, e.g., studying the thermal evolution of parent bodies or investigating shock wave processing of Solar System dust.  In particular, the research team is keenly interested in exploring formation mechanisms of chondrules. Chondrules are 0.1-1mm igneous spherules that are found in abundance in nearly all unmelted stony meteorites (i.e., chondrites). Each chondrule formed from precursors individually melted while floating freely in the Solar Nebula (the planet-forming disk around the Sun that gave rise to the Solar System). These melts cooled and crystallized, locking in chemical, mineralogical, and petrological information. Thus, these solids provide a record of major events during the Solar System's formation and have the potential to tell us more about planet formation than the planets themselves. Experience in computational fluid dynamics or heat transfer modelling is preferred, but not required. This position is contingent on NSERC funding.

9. ATLAS Experiment

Contact: Prof. Colin Gay, Email: c...@physics.ubc.ca

 The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at CERN in Geneva, has completed an exceptional first run — recording an unprecedented amount of data at the highest energies ever achieved at a particle collider.  This has resulted in the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, and a full analysis of the data may lead to several additional discoveries, such as the production and observation of Dark Matter in the lab, helping us understand almost 25% of the mass of the Universe; discovery of new types of particles; discovery of extra spatial dimensions previously unseen, or the discovery of new symmetries of nature.  As well as analyzing current data, we are developing new techniques to prepare for the upcoming data taking, which will have collisions of almost twice the energy of the of the existing data, opening up previously inaccessible energy scales.  We are hiring one student to join our analysis team and take part in this exciting search for new physics.

2014 USRA Projects

1. "Super Rotors"

Contact - Valery Milner        email vmilner AT phas.ubc.ca

My research is about controlling matter with laser light. More specifically, we have recently succeeded to directly observe and study a new exotic state of matter – a gas of molecular “super rotors”. Using the technique of an “optical centrifuge”, we spin up molecules to extremely fast rotation with ultrashort laser pulses. An effective temperature of such “super rotation” is more than 50,000 degrees Kelvin, yet unlike conventional hot molecules, super rotors revolve in a synchronous concerted fashion which, to the best of our knowledge, we have detected and fully characterized for the first time. It has been speculated that super rotors may exhibit a number of unique and intriguing properties, from rotation-induced nano-scale magnetism to formation of macroscopic gas vortices. Studying all these new aspects of molecular dynamics with ultrafast lasers is the primary goal of my work.

2. Detector development for the Belle-II experiment

Contact - Christopher Hearty       Email - hearty AT physics.ubc.ca

The Belle-II experiment will be located at the SuperKEKB e+e- particle collider in Japan. The heavy-flavour physics program of Belle-II is a continuation of the successful Belle and BaBar programs, with a factor of 40 increase in luminosity with respect to the original Belle experiment. Belle-II will focus on observing physics beyond the standard model (SM) through its impact on asymmetries and rare decays that can be predicted in the SM and precisely measured using the high luminosity. Although the new physics (NP) particle masses are well above the center-of-mass energy of the SuperKEKB collider, NP can produce observable effects through its inclusion in quantum loops. The Belle-II program is complementary to the direct searches for NP at the Large Hadron Collider, and the indirect searches of Belle-II can be sensitive to masses that exceed those that can be directly produced at the LHC.
 
The student will assist in the development of a new, high-speed calorimeter capable of achieving excellent resolution in the presence of high backgrounds. Tasks will include designing and building test equipment; data acquisition; data analysis using Root; and organizing and presenting results.


3. Molecular simulations of DNA

Contact - Joerg Rottler    email - jrottler AT physics.ubc.ca

We seek a USRA to contribute to the development of new molecular models for the computer simulation of DNA phenomena. These models involve so-called coarse-graining, i.e. a simplified description that avoids the full complexity of the molecule while retaining important atomistic features. Of particular interest to us are mechanical properties of the biomolecule. Strong computational skills, experience
with Linux, programming (C/C++, python or matlab), and visualization are required.

4. The formation of stony meteorite parent bodies

Contact - Aaron Boley     email - astro AT aaronboley.com

Chondrules are 0.1-1mm igneous spherules that are found in abundance in nearly all unmelted stony meteorites (i.e., chondrites). Each chondrule formed from precursors individually melted while floating freely in the Solar Nebula (the planet-forming disk around the Sun that gave rise to the Solar System). These melts cooled and crystallized, locking in chemical, mineralogical, and petrological information. Thus, these solids provide a record of major events during the Solar System's formation and have the potential to tell us more about planet formation than the planets themselves. A variety of mechanisms have been proposed, but so far, shock processing seems to be the most consistent with chondrule constraints. A possible candidate mechinism for driving these shocks is planetoids/planets on eccentric orbits in a gaseous disk.  We will run a suite of simulations exploring how outgassing and radiating planetoids alter the conditions around bow shocks, which will allow us to investigate whether such shocks are consistent with the meteoritic record.
 
5. MESA Simulations of Cooling White Dwarfs

Contact - Jeremy Heyl, Email - heyl AT phas.ubc.ca

I would like a student to use MESA and nbody6 to simulate the evolution of white dwarfs in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae and to interpret our recent observations of globular clusters with the Hubble Space Telescope.  The student would run numerical simulations of both stellar evolution and celestial mechanics and perform statistical analysis of a large observational dataset.

6. Understanding Galaxies

Contact - Douglas Scott    Tel 604-822-2802    Hennings 300A    email dscott AT astro.ubc.ca

The formation and evolution of galaxies is a complex topic, with many facets, which can be tackled using a combination of numerical analytical and observations approaches.  Observations at sub-millimetre and far-infrared wavelengths are particularly important for studying star-forming galaxies in the early Universe, since this is the waveband where the emission peaks.  Instruments such as BLAST, Herschel-SPIRE, Planck and ACT are all useful, and all have a UBC connection.  Depending on the skills and interests of the student, we will focus on one of a number of issues in this rapidly developing research area.  This will involve analysing or simulating data, requiring some computational aptitude.

7. T2K Experiment

Contact - Hirohisa Tanaka    email - tanaka AT phas.ubc.ca

The T2K (Tokai-to-Kamioka) experiment studies neutrinos produced by an accelerator on one side of Japan and sent to the Super Kamiokande detector 295 km away. During this transit, it is expected that neutrinos will undergo a phenomenon called neutrino oscillations where they change type, which may shed light on the matter/anti-matter asymmetry of the universe, i.e. how the universe evolved to its current matter-dominated state.The experiment recently observed the transmutation of muon neutrinos to electron neutrinos, a new form of neutrino oscillations. With the analysis of the data underway, there are many opportunities to study the neutrino interaction data taken in the experiment and to develop new algorithms to improve the performance and sensitivity of the experiment. There are also opportunities to design, develop, and test new photon detectors  for a next generation neutrino oscillation and proton decay experiment (Hyper Kamiokande).

8. Understanding magnetic resonance signals from white matter in brain

Contact - Alex Mackay     email - mackay AT physics.ubc.ca

Our group uses magnetic resonance imaging techniques to investigate pathological processes which occur in brain diseases. In particular, we have developed a technique for measuring the myelin component of white matter in brain. Myelin makes up the ‘insulation’ around neuronal axons and plays a key role in the normal transmission of nerve signals. This summer we shall be following two lines of research into myelin measurement by magnetic resonance 1) detailed fundamental investigation of the magnetic resonance signals from ex vivo white and grey matter in samples and 2) Analysis of in vivo myelin measurements from white matter in multiple sclerosis subjects to assess relationships between myelin content and brain functional measurements.
 
9. Student Job Title: Commissioning of TREK Scintillating Fibre Target and TOF Array
 
Contact - Mike Hasinoff          Email - hasinoff AT physcis.ubc.ca

Name of Project: TREK - Search for New Physics (SUSY) in K+ Decay

Overview:

     The goal of our experiment is to search for New Physics beyond the Standard Model ( possibly SUSY ). We have constructed a 256 element scintillating fibre targer at TRIUMF for a Kaon Decay experiment to be performed at J-PARC in Japan. We will complete our testing of this target using the TRIUMF beam in May and June. We will then prepare it for shipment to Japan. We are also currently  constructing a 24 scintillator array to provide a Time-Of-Flight measurement to separate muons and positrons.

    It is quite likely that we will send the student to Japan for 2-3 weeks in August to help us with the installation of our detector systems along with other subsystems being constructed by our collaborators in Japan, the US, and Russia.

Duties:

To help with the data analysis from our beam test runs at TRIUMF and/or J-PARC 

To help with the machining of the scintillator and acrylic light guides for our 24 TOF counter array.

Skills to be learned during this work experience:

- precision assembly - attention to small details

- documentation skills

- data acquisition and slow control equipment monitoring in a multi-parameter multi-detector experiment

- event-by-event multi-variable computer analysis using ROOT  ( data mining )

- basic machining and proper usage of shop tools

10. The ATLAS Experiment

Contact:  Profs. Colin Gay, Alison Lister

Email: cgay AT physics.ubc.ca, alister AT physics.ubc.ca 

Phone:  (604)822-3150, 604-822-9240

Project:
The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at CERN in Geneva, has completed an exceptional first run — recording an unprecedented amount of data at the highest energies ever achieved at a particle collider.  This has resulted in the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, and a full analysis of the data may lead to several additional discoveries, such as the production and observation of Dark Matter in the lab, helping us understand almost 25% of the mass of the Universe; discovery of new types of particles; discovery of extra spatial dimensions previously unseen, or the discovery of new symmetries of nature.  As well as analyzing current data, we are developing new techniques to prepare for the upcoming data taking, which will have collisions of almost twice the energy of the of the existing data, opening up previously inaccessible energy scales.  We are hiring one or two students to join our analysis team and take part in this exciting search for new physics.

2013 USRA Projects

(This is a partial list. Faculty members who are not listed here might also be interested in supervising USRA students; please contact them directly.)

1. Understanding Galaxies

Contact - Douglas Scott    Tel 604-822-2802    Hennings 300A    email dscott AT astro.ubc.ca

The formation and evolution of galaxies is a complex topic, with many facets, which can be tackled using a combination of numerical analytical and observations approaches.  Observations at sub-millimetre and far-infrared wavelengths are particularly important for studying star-forming galaxies in the early Universe, since this is the waveband where the emission peaks.  Instruments such as BLAST, Herschel-SPIRE, Planck and ACT are all useful, and all have a UBC connection.  Depending on the skills and interests of the student, we will focus on one of a number of issues in this rapidly developing research area.  This will involve analysing or simulating data, requiring some computational aptitude.


2. T2K Experiment

Contact - Hirohisa Tanaka    email - tanaka AT phas.ubc.ca

The T2K (Tokai-to-Kamioka) experimen studies neutrinos produced by an accelerator on one side of Japan and sent to the Super Kamiokande detector 295 km away. During this transit, it is expected that neutrinos will undergo a phenomenon called neutrino oscillations where they change type, which may shed light on the matter/anti-matter asymmetry of the universe, i.e. how the universe evolved to its current matter-dominated state.The experiment recently published its first results on neutrino oscillations, which was proclaimed one of the "Top 10 Physics Stories of 2011". With the analysis of the data underway, there are many opportunities to study the neutrino interaction data taken in the experiment and to develop new algorithms to improve the performance and sensitivity of the experiment. There are also opportunities to design, develop, and test new photon detectors  for a next generation neutrino oscillation and proton decay experiment (Hyper Kamiokande) .

3. Correlating electrophysiology measurements of brain activations with magnetic resonance imaging measurements of brain anatomy.

Contact - Alex Mackay     email - mackay AT physics.ubc.ca

This project will compare magnetic resonance imaging measurements of myelin in brain with various electrophysiological measures of signal conduction in brain in a population of both normal volunteers and subjects suffering from multiple sclerosis. The project will involve learning about magnetic resonance measurements of myelin, about brain anatomy and function and also about the the electrical system in the brain.
 
4. ATLAS experiment

Contact - Prof. Colin Gay, Alison Lister  Tel - 604-822-2753, 604-822-9240   Email - cgay AT phas.ubc.ca, alister AT phas.ubc.ca

The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at CERN in Geneva, has completed an exceptional two years of recording an unprecedented amount of data at the highest energies ever achieved at a particle collider.  This has resulted in the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, and a full analysis of the data may lead to several additional discoveries, such as the production and observation of Dark Matter in the lab, helping us understand almost 25% of the mass of the Universe; discovery of new types of particles; discovery of extra spatial dimensions previously unseen, or the discovery of new symmetries of nature.  We are hiring one or two students to join our analysis team and take part in this exciting search for new physics.

5. CHIME

Contact - Mark Halpern, Gary Hinshaw, or Chris Sigurdson     Email - halper AT phas.ubc.ca, hinshaw AT physics.ubc.ca, or krs AT phas.ubc.ca

We are building a novel radio telescope designed to measure the recent dark energy-driven acceleration of the expansion of the Universe.  It is called CHIME, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity-Mapping Experiment and it consists of radio interferometers sitting along the focal lines of large cylindrical reflectors.  The instrument, which has no moving parts, will map half the sky as the Earth turns.

Over the spring and summer we will be inventing, installing and testing antennas, low noise amplifiers and a digital correlator on two cylinders we are building at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, BC.

6. Photonics and Nanostructures Laboratory

Contact - Jeff Young       Email - young AT phas.ubc.ca

Our research group is involved in several projects all related in one way or another to engineering the interaction between excitonic excitations in quantum dots or molecules, and photons.  The method of engineering involves the spatial and spectral co-location of the quantum dots or molecules, with nanostructured metals and semiconductors that are used to dramatically alter the local density of photon states experienced by the exciton.  Projects include single-molecule spectroscopic characterization, chemical synthesis, nano-manipulation, and quantum-electrodynamic modelling.  The general goal is to realize nonlinear electron-photon coupling in ways that are impossible in vacuum, with real atoms. The group currently consists of 4 PhD students, 1 postdoc, research associate and undergrad student.

7. Advanced detector development for the Belle II experiment

Contact - Christopher Hearty       Email - hearty AT physics.ubc.ca

The BaBar experiment, which collected data from 1999 to 2008, has been a tremendous success. Highlights include the observation of CP violation in B mesons, and the first direct observation of the violation of time reversal symmetry, a result that was named one of the top ten physics stories of 2012. As a continuation of this research program, the Canadian group is joining the Belle II experiment, located at the KEK laboratory in Japan. Belle II will collect 100 times the data of BaBar, enabling a wide range of precision measurements that are sensitive to new physics beyond the standard model, at mass scales that can even exceed the reach of the Large Hadron Collider. This huge increase in the data rate requires new, advanced detectors. The student will help design, build, and test components of such detectors. Given sufficient progress, we will test a prototype in a particle beam at TRIUMF in August.

8. Title: Ultra-cold atoms and molecules

Contact - Kirk Madison        Email - madison AT phas.ubc.ca

In our lab, we refrigerate atomic gases with laser light to produce the coldest matter in the universe - ten million times colder than the baseline temperature of outer space (3K).  At these temperatures, a new form of matter emerges - the properties of which depend on the quantum statistics of the atoms.  For bosonic particles (where their total spin is an integer) a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) forms in which all the particles act in unison and (in some ways) behave as a single quantum object.  For fermionic particles (total spin is a half-integer) a quantum degenerate Fermi gas (QDFG) forms in which the particles are mutually excluded (because of Pauli's exclusion principle) from occupying the same quantum state producing a sort of compartmentalization. This exclusion means that the particles behavior becomes highly correlated (i.e. entangled) and new, unexpected properties arise.  Indeed, most of the deepest and longest standing mysteries and problems across the many domains of physics are the result of the collective behavior of many particles.  One of the wonders and beauties of physics is that one's understanding of many-body collective phenomena in one field often applies equally well to another.  This motivates the experimental and theoretical study of many-body effects in cold atoms.

At UBC, we have the ability to create both a quantum degenerate Fermi gas and a Bose Einstein condensate of atoms, and we are presently working on techniques to create a BEC of molecules made from cold atoms.  To do this, we induce reversible, chemical bonding processes with laser light.  The added internal structure of the molecules broadens the class of many-body physics that can be studied.  The long-term goal is to use this matter to study fundamental questions of many-body quantum mechanics.

Another closely related project (in a technical sense) is focused on the development of a new class of sensors based on cold atoms.  This work has practical applications to metrology laboratories (this work is being done in collaboration with NIST and NRC) and has potential commercial applications to materials and device fabrication industries.

The work in the lab is extremely diverse and involves state-of-the-art optical, electronic, and computer systems.  A prospective student would have the opportunity to work in a team on the design, construction, and operation of a laser cooling apparatus.  Please contact Kirk W. Madison for more details on the specific projects available.

9. Laser development for the study of anti-matter

Contact - David Jones          Email - djjones AT physcis.ubc.ca

ALPHA is an international collaboration based at CERN and whose aim is to trap and study antihydrogen atoms, the antimatter counterpart of the simplest atom, hydrogen. ALPHA recently demonstrated the first of these goals by trapping antihydrogen for over 1000 seconds (http://alpha.web.cern.ch/trappedHbarNews).

Nature is believed to possess certain fundamental symmetries.  In particular, the CPT theorem of particle physics indicates that antihydrogen atoms should have many of the same characteristics as normal hydrogen atoms.  For example, they should have the same mass, magnetic moment, and transition frequencies (i.e. spectroscopic properties) between their internal quantum states.  Therefore, the next step is to make precise comparisons of hydrogen and antihydrogen, to test for the presence (or absence) of this fundamental symmetry between matter and antimatter.

One method to compare hydrogen and antihydrogen relies on lasers to probe their energy levels and look for differences at extremely high levels of precision (1 part in 1e15). We have an opening for a undergraduate this summer to help with the development of such a laser system at UBC.

10. Quantum Electronic Science & Technology (QuEST) undergraduate summer research positions

Contact: quest -at- phas.ubc.ca or individual supervisors (below)

Quantum materials are substances that exhibit a wide range of unusual properties rooted in quantum mechanical effects. These occur in extreme situations such as low temperature or high magnetic fields, and in structures with reduced dimensions such as thin films, interfaces, nanostructures, and assemblies of single molecules. Interactions in these materials lead to novel states of matter including superconductivity, spin and charge order, and new phenomena at the edge of our understanding of electrons in solids.

Researchers at UBC are approaching a wide range of problems in this area both through experimental science and theoretical approaches. If you are interested in these research areas, please check out the QuEST website ( http://www.quest.ubc.ca/ ) or contact potential PhAs supervisors:
Mona Berciu berciu -at- phas.ubc.ca
Doug Bonn bonn -at- phas.ubc.ca
Andrea Damacelli damascelli -at- phas.ubc.ca 
Joerg Rottler jrottler -at- phas.ubc.ca
George Sawatzky sawatzky -at- phas.ubc.ca
Josh Folk jfolk -at- phas.ubc.ca
Rob Kiefl kiefl -at- triumf.ca
Jeff Young young -at- phas.ubc.ca

11.Student Job Title: Assembly and Commissioning of TREK Scintillating Fibre Target

Contact - Mike Hasinoff          Email - hasinoff AT physcis.ubc.ca

Name of Project: TREK - Search for New Physics (SUSY) in K+ Decay

Overview:

We are building a 256 element scintillating fibre targer at TRIUMF for a Kaon Decay experiment to be performed at J-PARC in Japan. The goan of this experiment is to search for New Physics beyond the Standard Model.

Duties:

To help with the assembly of the target fibres.

To help with the data analysis from our cosmic-ray and beam test runs.

Skills learned during this work experience:

- precision assembly - attention to small details

- documentation skills

- data acquisition and slow control monitoring

- event-by-event multi-variable computer analysis using ROOT

- basic machining and proper usage of shop tools

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2012 USRA Projects

(This is a partial list. Faculty members who are not listed here might also be interested in supervising USRA students; please contact them directly.)

1. TREK Scintillating Fibre Target 

Contact – Michael Hasinoff     tel 604-822-2360   Hennings 282    e_mail   hasinoff AT physics.ubc.ca

This project will involve the assembly and commissioning tests of the new TREK Scintillating Fibre Target currently under construction at TRIUMF. For our first J-PARC experiment we need to construct a 256 fibre target comprised of 3mm x 3mm x 200mm scintilling fibres coupled to long 1mm diameter green WaveLengthShifting (WLS) fibres. The light from each WLS fibre is then directed onto a small ( 1mm diameter ) solid state photon counter which is readout by an Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC). The student will help with the assembly and commissioning tests using both cosmic rays and pion beams produced by the TRIUMF cyclotron. He/she will learn about the detectors and Data Acquisition/Analysis Techniques used in modern High Energy Particle Physics.  For more information please visit the TREK website  -- and then contact me.

http://www-online.kek.jp/~e06/trek/

2.   Submillimetre Cosmology

Contact - Douglas Scott    Tel 604-822-2802    Hennings 300A    email dscott AT astro.ubc.ca

Submillimetre cosmology uses instruments which observe the sky at wavelengths a little below a millimetre to study star-forming galaxies in the distant Universe.  At UBC we are involved with several inter-related ground- and  space-based projects, including Herschel and SCUBA-2.  Such studies allow us to measure the history of cosmic star formation, and correlations between submm images and other tracers of structure, give unique information on the relationship between  dark matter and luminous matter on large scales.  Doing so requires careful construction of images, and application of statistical approaches to the large data-sets.  This project will involve a combination of analysis of real data and simulations which can help interpret the results.  The student selected needs to have computational skills and experience.

3. Photonics and Nanostructures Laboratory

Contact - Jeff Young   email - young AT phas.ubc.ca

Projects are available involving the experimental and theoretical study of nano-meter scale semiconductor (PbSe, PbS, InN etc.), and metal (Au, Ag) nanoparticles whose size and shape can be engineered to dramatically enhance the interaction between electronic states in the semiconductor (excitons), and light (photons) that flow through silicon photonic circuits. This photonic engineering is used both to enhance our ability to study fundamental aspects of light-matter interactions at the nanoscale, and to explore possible new technologies based on the quantum mechanical nature of light.

4. ATLAS experiment

Contact - Prof. Colin Gay    Tel - 604-822-2753     Email - cgay AT phas.ubc.ca

The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at CERN in Geneva, has completed an exceptional year of recording an unprecedented amount of data at the highest energies ever achieved at a particle collider, and is on track to record significantly more in the coming year.  This may lead to several major discoveries, such as the recent hints of an observation of the Higgs boson, which would help explain the origin of mass; the production and observation of Dark Matter in the lab, helping us understand almost 25% of the mass of the Universe; discovery of extra spatial dimensions previously unseen, and the discovery of new symmetries of nature.  We are hiring one or two students to join our analysis team and take part in this exciting search for new physics.

5. Applied Biophysics/Bioengineering: Microfluidic Single Cell Analysis.

Contact - Carl Hansen     Email - chansen AT phas.ubc.ca

Cells are the fundamental unit of biology with different types of cells making specific tissues within the body.  Identifying differences between individual cells within a given tissue type is critical to understanding how different cell types work together, both in maintaining health and in the advancement of disease.  A challenge in analyzing single cells is that they contain only very small amounts of proteins and nucleic acids, making them poorly suited to standard molecular biology analysis. One way to circumvent this problem is to analyze individual cells in tiny volumes where a single cell's worth of RNA or protein is at a high effective concentration.  Microfluidic devices, consisting of chips having hundreds to thousands of channels, pumps, and valves, provide an ideal platform for conducting such highly sensitive single cell measurements.

In this project the student will join an ongoing effort in developing microfluidic tools for the analysis of single cells.  This work will be based upon a fabrication technique called Multilayer Soft Lithography which is a method that allows for the dense integration of "fluidic circuits" having thousands of active microvalves per square centimeter.  The student will get hands on training in the design, fabrication and testing of microfluidic devices, as image analysis, software development and experience in molecular biology methods for analyzing proteins or RNA from single cells.  All fabrication and experimental facilities required for this work are in place at the NCE building within the Center for High-Throughput Biology.  Experience in microfabrication, CAD design, software development, molecular biology, or cell biology are all an asset but are not required.

6. Musical Acoustics

Contact - Chris Waltham     email - cew AT phas.ubc.ca

The musical acoustics group are currently work in two projects: acoustic imaging of musical instruments (focussing on the harp, violin, and a variety of Asian string instruments); acoustic string motion sensing. We work in the excellent anechoic chamber in the CEME building. http://newsite.phas.ubc.ca/applied-physics#music

7. T2K Experiment

Contact - Hirohisa Tanaka    email - tanaka AT phas.ubc.ca

The T2K (Tokai-to-Kamioka) experiment is an international collaboration that studies neutrinos produced by an accelerator on one side of Japan and sent to the Super Kamiokande detector 295 km away. During this transit, it is expected that neutrinos will undergo a phenomenon called neutrino oscillations where they change type, which may shed light on the matter/anti-matter asymmetry of the universe, i.e. how the universe evolved to its current matter-dominated state.The experiment recently published its first results on neutrino oscillations, which was proclaimed one of the "Top 10 Physics Stories of 2011". With the analysis of the data underway, there are many opportunities to study the neutrino interaction data taken in the experiment and to develop new algorithms to improve the performance and sensitivity of the experiment. There are also opportunities to design and develop new detectors and to use the beam from the TRIUMF cyclotron towards improving the systematic understanding of the experiment.

8. Development of Nanoscale optical measurements

Contact - Sarah Burke     email - saburke AT phas.ubc.ca

Projects are available for the development of measurement techniques that combine optical measurements with Scanning Probe Microscopy. This will include the development of electrochemical etching techniques for producing sharp silver tips for plasmonic enhancement of light emission, and integration of optical systems with the low-temperature ultrahigh vacuum scanning probe microscope in our lab. These techniques will be applied to molecular systems including model organic photovoltaic materials.

9. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Contact - Alex Mackay     email - mackay AT physics.ubc.ca

Our research group makes use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to investigate brain pathology. We have developed a MRI technique which measures myelin content in brain; we wish to use this technique to investigate how brain myelination decreases over time in persons suffering from multiple sclerosis. The project will involve learning about different mechanisms of MRI contrast, about how to work with MR images from a serial study and how to use statistics to support the conclusions from a medical study.

10. TRIUMF

Contact - Reiner Kruecken     email - reiner.kruecken AT triumf.ca

Project #1
The DRAGON Facility measures directly astrophysical nuclear reactions that take place inside stars, supernovae and novae, using accelerated radioactive particle beams. The data obtained using DRAGON is utilized by astrophysicists to make connections between real observations of stars and what are predicted by sophisticated computer-based stellar models.
In this project the student would contribute to the translation of a computer simulation of the DRAGON Facility, from the FORTRAN-based Geant3 formalism, into the modern C++ based Geant4 formalism that is used by the high-energy physics community. The DRAGON simulation is a vital part of being able to interpret the data obtained at the facility. This project not only requires a good knowledge of C++ and a basic knowledge of FORTAN, but also a conceptual understanding of charged-particle transport in electromagnetic fields. The student will also be able to take part in real physics experiments happening at DRAGON, and the assistance in the analysis of experimental data if available.

Project #2
The DRAGON Facility measures directly astrophysical nuclear reactions that take place inside stars, supernovae and novae, using accelerated radioactive particle beams. The data obtained using DRAGON is utilized by astrophysicists to make connections between real observations of stars and what are predicted by sophisticated computer-based stellar models.
In this project the student would assist in the building of a new data acquisition system for the facility - more precisely, contributing to the construction of analysis codes using C++, and learning to be familiar with the TRIUMF-MIDAS system as well as VME functions. This project would suit a student interested in electronics, computing, and the digital storage and transformation of experimental data.  The student will also be able to take part in real physics experiments happening at DRAGON, and the assistance in the analysis of experimental data if available.

Project #3
At TRIUMF's ISAC facility radioisotopes for the laboratory study of nuclear reactions in astrophysical environments are produced by the bombardment of thick targets with 500 MeV protons and their subsequent extraction via diffusion and ionization. In this project the student would assist in the conception, design, fabrication and execution of an experiment to study the diffusion of implanted ions in novel ISAC target materials, in order to determine diffusion coefficients enabling the possible production of very intense radioactive ion beams for the astrophysics program. This would involve some basic chemistry calculations, calculations to determine the accelerated isotope beam required for implantation, the implantation chamber, and the installation/operation of the equipment required to determine diffusion coefficients. This project would suit a student who likes very hands-on work and is interested in the overlap between physics and chemistry under the kind of conditions seen in ISAC targets.

USRA Projects 2011 

(This is a partial list. Faculty members who are not listed here might also be interested in supervising USRA students; please contact them directly.)

Project 1

Supervisor: Douglas Scott
Email: dscott@phas.ubc.ca
Phone: 2-2802

Project description:

The Planck satellite is currently mapping the Universe on the largest scales through precise measurements of the microwave background.  These improvements in data quality have inspired cosmologists to think of new ways in which we can constrain the physics of the early Universe. One particular idea is to look for modulations to the sky which may come from having a gradient in the underlying physics, such as a spatial variation in a cosmological parameter or fundamental constant. Simulated data-sets can be used to determine how such effects can be optimally measured, and potentially how multiple signatures of this kind could be distinguished from each other.  This is one example of a project in the broad area of interface between theory and observational data in modern cosmology.  The student will be expected to have strong computational as well as analytic skills.

Project 2

Supervisor: Alex MacKay (mackay@physics.ubc.ca)

Project Title: Use of Magnetic Resonance Techniques to explore brain pathology

This project involves the analysis of magnetic resonance data from a large serial study on multiple sclerosis brain. Our techniques include diffusion tensor imaging, proton spectroscopy, and a locally developed technique known as myelin water imaging. The student will learn about how MRI can be used to learn about the pathology of multiple sclerosis brain. 

Project 3

Supervisor: Yan Pennec (ypennec@phas.ubc.ca)

Project description:

Fabrication, assembling and testing  of an UHV-LT-HF Scanning Tunneling Microscope.

The STM head have been designed for the measurement of time-resolved scanning tunneling spectroscopy. The aim is the direct observation time-dependent phenomena at the atomic scale down to the picoseconds regime. These experiments will be performed in an ultra-high-vacuum, low temperature environment. The design stage of the STM head is now completed and all drawings of all parts are available. The students tasks will be to manage the physical realisation of the head. The students will order the parts from a pre-selection of manufacturers. The second part include the assembly then testing of the STM head. When completed, a commissioning technical report will be written on the performance evaluation of the instrument. The technical skills required include ultra fast-electronics, CAD design, precision mechanical work and instrument testing. The non-technical skills include project management, collaborative work with machine shops and parts suppliers personals as well as scientific writing.

Project 4

Supervisor: Prof. Hirohisa Tanaka
Email: tanaka@phas.ubc.ca
Phone: 604-822-4891

Project description: The T2K (Tokai-to-Kamioka) experiment is an international collaboration to study the properties of neutrinos that are produced by an accelerator on one side of Japan and sent to the Super Kamiokande detector 295 km away. During this transit, it is expected that neutrinos will undergo a phenomenon called neutrino oscillations where they will change type. T2K will have a sensitivity more than an order of magnitude greater than previous experiments. We are now entering the data-taking phase, with our first run starting at the beginning of 2010. This project will offer the opportunity to use the data to study neutrinos, to develop software algorithms to track and identify particles emanating from neutrino interactions, and to perform studies that will improve our understanding of our detectors and their performance. 

Project 5

Supervisor: Prof. Colin Gay
Email:  cgay@physics.ubc.ca
Phone:  (604)822-2753

Project:
THe ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at CERN in Geneva, is on track to take an unprecedented amount of data at the highest energies ever achieved at a particle collider.  This may lead to several major discoveries, such as the observation of the Higgs boson, which would help explain the origin of mass; the production and observation of Dark Matter in the lab, helping us understand almost 25% of the mass of the Universe; discovery of extra spatial dimensions previously unseen, and the discovery of new symmetries of nature.  We are hiring one or two students to join our analysis team and take part in this exciting search for new physics.

Project 6

Supervisor: Prof. Chris Waltham
Email: cew@phas.ubc.ca
Phone: 1-604-822-5712

Project description:

------------------

See http://www.phas.ubc.ca/~waltham/music/index.html for ongoing work. We are also starting an experimental project on the non-linear motion of strings. 

Project 7

Supervisor: Ingrid Stairs (stairs@phas.ubc.ca)

Project:
1) Derive polarization calibration parameters for the Green Bank and Arecibo telescopes, to be used in improving the high-precision timing that my research group and collaborators are using to try to detect a background of gravitational waves.

2) Identify and excise radio-frequency interference signals in timing data taken at the Green Bank and possibly Arecibo telescopes, and investigate the statistical properties of this interference.  This will be useful for both the gravitational-wave-background project and for ongoing observations of such objects as the only double-pulsar system.

3) Process and examine data from Arecibo and/or Green Bank that aims to discover brand-new pulsars -- lots of potential for finding exciting new objects.

Note: For summer jobs offered by the "Max-Planck-UBC Centre for quantum materials" at German Max-Planck Institutes follow this link: http://www.mpg-ubc.mpg.de/undergraduate.html

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USRA Projects 2010

Project 1 - Harvey Richer

Email: richer@astro.ubc.ca
Research website link: http://www.astro.ubc.ca/people/richer

Brief project description:

Brief project description: Starting in January 2010, I will be obtaining a large number of images with the Hubble Space Telescope of an ancient star cluster. This allocation of time on Hubble is one of the largest in all of 2010 as we will have the telescope for about 5 days. These data will be used to search for planets in this cluster, provide insight into its dynamics, age, chemical composition, search for any possible black hole and numerous other exciting experiments. NSERC summer students will be involved in a team working on these projects.

Project 2 - Name: Carl Hansen

Email: chansen@phas.ubc.ca
Research website link: http://www.chibi.ubc.ca/faculty/hansen

Brief project description:

The student will be involved in the design and testing of microfluidic based systems for single cell analysis. A variety of project options are available including single cell analysis by microscopy, RT-qPCR, and sequencing. Students will have the opportunity to gain experience in techniques such as microfabrication, instrument automation, image processing, microscopy, molecular biology, and cell culture.

Project 3 - Yan Pennec

Email: ypennec@physics.ubc.ca

Brief project description:

Design and construction of a new 3D Scanning Tunneling Microscope head. The STM is famously to be the first instrument enabling imaging of atoms in real space. One of the prerequisites is a highly accurate coarse positioning of the tip close to the sample. For this project the student will be asked to implement new design for a 3D positioner with nanometer accuracy based on stick-slip motors inspired by our current prototypes. This head is meant to be at the heart of our future sub-Kelvin UHV instrument.

Project 4 - Douglas Scott

Email: dscott@phas.ubc.ca
Research website link: http://www.astro.ubc.ca/people/scott

Brief project description:

 "Submillimetre cosmology" is a new area of research in which advanced  cameras operating at wavelengths a little shorter than a millimetre are  used to study distant star-forming galaxies.  At UBC we are involved with  several inter-related projects (BLAST, SCUBA-2, Herschel-SPIRE) for which  we have very recently obtained data.  Understanding the high-redshift  Universe using these data is difficult, requiring the application of  careful statistical techniques, linear-algebra-like map-making methods,  optimal filters for source extraction, Monte Carlo methods, etc.  The  successful student will be involved in one aspect of this work.

Project 5 - Chris Waltham

Email:
Research site Hebb 1H and Hennings 208

Brief project description:

Vibroacoustics of string instruments. Student will use accelerometers, microphones and a fast camera to study the vibrational behaviour of strings and soundboxes, and the sound radiation, of various string instruments. At present we are concentrating on the guitar, violin, harp and guqin.

Project 6 - Kirk W. Madison

Email: madison@phas.ubc.ca
Research website link: www.phas.ubc.ca/~qdg

Brief project description:

Undergraduate research projects include work on existing experiments in the lab using laser cooled atoms to study cold and hot collisions and to create ultra-cold molecules via photoassociation.

Project 7 - Alex MacKay

Email: mackay@physics.ubc.ca
Research website link: http://www.mriresearch.ubc.ca/

Brief project description:

Brief project description: We have a large research program investigating the pathology of multiple sclerosis (MS) brain using advanced in vivo magnetic resonance imaging techniques. Our proposed summer project is to use diffusion tensor tractography to investigate the trajectories of nerve tracts which pass though MS lesions in order to discover if normal appearing white matter downstream is affected by the presence of the lesion.

Project 8 - Joerg Rottler

Email: jrottler@phas.ubc.ca
Research website link: http://www.phas.ubc.ca/~jrottler

Brief project description:

A NSERC USRA position is available in the group of Prof. Joerg Rottler in computational condensed matter physics. The project will include large scale molecular dynamics simulations of material behavior in an out of equilibrium. Presently we are interested in the physics of amorphous solids (glasses) and electrostatic interactions for biomolecules in solution (see website). Some prior experience with scientific computing (Linux, programming in C/C++) would be useful.

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