Undergrad USRA Projects 2018

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

1. Integrated Quantum Optics in Silicon Chips

Contact - Dr. Jeff Young            Email: young@phas.ubc.ca

We are developing a variety of technologies required in order to realize a scalable quantum information processing platform based on photon-mediated interactions with/between spin states of impurities in silicon (quantum computer, quantum communication devices etc.).  This is a large CFI-funded collaborative project primarily involving groups from UBC and SFU.  Undergraduate research assistants will have the opportunity to get involved in the nanofabrication and/or design and/or characterization of silicon-based photonic circuits that operate at 2.9 micron wavelengths that incorporate very high Quality factor, ultra-small mode-volume microcavities.  Another focus area is in developing new light sources and single photon detectors in the 2.9 micron wavelength range specifically to allow efficient characterization of the circuits.  Here nonlinear optics, fibre optics, laser physics, and low-temperature electronics come into play.  We are looking for talented undergraduates who are motivated to work on challenging technological problems related to quantum information processing.

2. Super-rotors

Contact: V. Milner (vmilner@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 2018, we will be working on: (1) the investigation of molecular super-rotors embedded in the quantum nano-droplets of superfluid helium; and (2) the prospect of creating chiral super-rotors, i.e. ultrafast spinning chiral molecules.  

3. Statistics of CMB polarization

Contact - Dr. Douglas Scott             Email - dscott@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. Data Analysis for the TREK experiment at J-PARC

Contact - Mike Hasinoff      Email - hasinoff@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.

5. Research project in computational biophysics:

Contact - Joerg Rottler ; James J. Feng @chbe.ubc.ca>@physics.ubc.ca>

We seek a summer student interested in theoretical molecular biophysics. The goal of the project is to understand how  baculovirus can break the protein gel filling the pores of the nuclear pore complex and hence enter the cell nucleus. This will be done using molecular simulations. A background in biophysics and experience in programming/scientific computing (python, C, Linux OS etc) are required.  This is a joint project between Prof. Joerg Rottler (Physics) and Prof. James Feng (Chemical Engineering).

6. GPU implementation of planetary dynamics integrators.

Contact: Prof B. Gladman        Email - gladman@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.

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

Contact: Prof. Harvey Richer      Emaill - richer@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.

8. ATLAS Projects

Contact: Prof. Alison Lister; Prof. Colin Gay     Email: alister@phas.ubc.ca; cgay@phas.ubc.ca

1) Integration of ATLAS limits into Global Fits in particle and astroparticle physics
Many different probes are sensitive to physics beyond the Standard Model (BSM): direct and indirect searches for dark matter (DM), accelerator searches, and neutrino experiments. Experiments such as CRESST, Fermi-LAT and PAMELA may even already show tantalizing hints of DM. To make robust conclusions about the overall level of support for different BSM scenarios from such varied sources, a simultaneous statistical fit of all the data, fully taking into account all relevant uncertainties, assumptions and correlations is an absolute necessity. This approach is commonly called a `global fit'. Such analyses exploit the synergy between different experimental approaches to its maximum potential.
In this summer student project the student will integrate in a first step the latest ATLAS Run 2 results into this global-fit framework. In a second step they will perform a smaller-size global fit of a sensitive model, to see what impact their newly integrated analyses have.
The student should already have programming skills in C++/python, an understanding of statistics and a desire to do more complex math problems is a bonus.
2) Deep learning with ATLAS
The ATLAS UBC group is developing new deep learning techniques for the 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.
Experience and familiarity with python is required.
3) Electronics and firmware design with the ATLAS group
The ATLAS group has current projects and commitments on a number of readout electronics projects. These include operating the current TRT detector readout, the development and design of the readout system for the future new inner tracking detector (ITk). These both could provide interesting projects for a keen student who already has previous VHDL (or Verilog) experience [through a course or hands-on experience]

Contact - Mark Halpern and Gary Hinshaw    Email - halper@phas.ubc.ca, hinshaw@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.

CHIME is fully assembled and the team is commissioning it and getting a first look at the data.  A student joining the team would help look at data and could also work at the site testing and optimizing aspects of instrument performance.  High performance computing skills and electronics skills would be assets.


10. NSERC USRA position in Micro-Computed Tomography Lab
Note: this position is posted here for your information only. Students with an interest in medical/biophysics who are interested in this position will need to apply to Dr. Nancy Ford (nlford@dentistry.ubc.ca) directly as this will fall under Dentistry's USRA allotment.


Dr. Nancy Ford is an expert in micro-CT imaging for preclinical lung research and is the Director of the UBC Centre for High-Throughput Phenogenomics (CHTP), an advanced imaging facility.  Due to her position as Director of the CHTP, Dr. Ford has various imaging equipment available to perform correlative imaging studies, where the same specimen is investigated using different equipment, including micro-CT imaging in vivo and post mortem to visualize the same structures. 

Dr. Ford and collaborators at St. Paul’s Hospital are studying the early stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in a rodent model.  We are using micro-CT imaging as a non-invasive means of investigating the structure and function of the lungs and associated vasculature.  To identify markers of COPD, we will image the animals prior to inducing disease, and at different time points during COPD progression to understand what changes are important and at what stage of the disease we can detect these changes.  We will be comparing measurements of lung volume, airway diameters, lung lobe size, etc. between in vivo and post mortem images of the same animal.  Simultaneously, we will investigate the pulmonary vasculature by introducing an iodinated contrast agent during in vivo scans and filling the vasculature with a lead-based resin post mortem. 

We want to develop methods to correlate the measurements between in vivo and post mortem imaging and determine the accuracy of reporting measurements of anatomical structures and tissues whose shape is easily distorted, such as the lungs.  The project will involve participation in the micro-CT image acquisition for in vivo and post mortem scans, excising and preparing tissues for post mortem imaging (primarily micro-CT, but also for histology), and micro-CT image analysis.

All measurements will be performed in the Centre for High-Throughput Phenogenomics under the direct supervision of Dr. Ford, with additional support  from collaborators and CHTP personnel as needed.  Training on the measurement software will be provided by Dr. Ford.  Training on excising tissue and sample preparation will be done with collaborators and Dr. Ford.


Students at any level that are registered in Science, Engineering, or related Health Sciences programs are invited to apply (prefer 3rd or 4th year).  The successful candidate will have lab bench experience working with chemicals (could include university lab courses).  The successful candidate will have basic computer skills (Word, Excel) and preferred experience in Linux OS, MicroView or be willing to learn.

Anticipated Skills and Knowledge Acquisition

The student will develop computer skills, the ability to work independently and gain experience working with micro-CT images.  The images will provide an introduction to 3D imaging datasets.  The student will develop a basic understanding of x-ray tomography, and learn to excise tissues and prepare samples.

The Centre for High-throughput Phenogenomics is a core facility, with users from different research areas and different faculties across UBC and western Canada bringing their unique expertise and research needs.  Interactions with the users of the facility may lead to improved networking skills, and connections across the university.

11. Chemistry USRA program https://www.chem.ubc.ca/ubc-chemistry-summer-research-awards

Note: the following positions are posted here for your information only (per Dr. Bernie Shizgal's request). Students who are interested in these positions will need to apply to Dr. Bernie Shizgal at Chemistry Department directly as this will fall under Chemistry's USRA  program.

Contact: Bernie Shizgal       Email: shizgal@chem.ubc.ca

1) Numerical Pseudospectral Solutions of the Schroedinger Equation for the Pseudo-harmonic and Kratzner potentials

2) Numerical Pseudospectral Solutions of the Schroedinger Equation for the Wood-Saxon and Hulthen potentials

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**Project List 2018 from Imperial College London - for UBC-V students going to ICL for two-month exchange

Note: UBC-V students will be spending two months (May - June) at UBC on another related project and then go to ICL for exchange (July - Aug.) with one of the possible projects listed below.

Imperial College London International Student Research Project Opportunities (Summer 2018)

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