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Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars

We provide members with both technical training in exciting new research areas and the professional development training they need to thrive in 21st century careers in industry, national laboratories, academia and entrepreneurial activities.

Deadline for Application

February 5, 2021

STROBE Undergraduate Researchers will be notified in March 2021

Application Form

STROBE is an NSF Science and Technology Center coordinating six institutions across the US to build the microscopes of tomorrow. Our research includes visible, x-ray, nano-probe, and electron microscopy, and has applications across materials science, basic physics and chemistry, and biological systems. We have research opportunities at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of California at Berkeley, Fort Lewis College, Florida International University, and the University of California at Irvine (see below for specific research descriptions at each site).

All programs include a $4,000–5,000 stipend and additional funding may be available for housing/travel for those who need it.

Program dates vary but are typically 8–10 weeks, include research in a mentored lab experience, supporting group and social activities and community networking, and academic, science, and career development opportunities. Undergraduates will present their summer findings at the STROBE Summer Undergraduate Research Scholar Symposium in July 2021.

You can find information and tips for preparing your application on our FAQs and Resources page.

Please direct questions to STROBE’s Associate Director of Education, Dr. Ellen Keister.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, our summer 2020 program was almost entirely remote/virtual, with 38 students working with research groups from all six STROBE nodes plus Norfolk State University, our PEAQS PREM partner. You can find project titles at the bottom of this page. We are currently unable to make a determination about whether or not our summer 2021 program will be on-site or remote, or a hybrid combination, but are confident that we can provide a quality undergraduate research program regardless of format.

Because not every research group has projects that are suitable for working remotely, we are unable to guarantee which groups (of those listed below) will have positions. Program dates vary, but we can accommodate students who attend both semester and quarter system schools.

STROBE Labs Participating in the SURS Program

University of California, Los Angeles

Research combines the progress in ultrafast laser technology and our improved understanding of photocathode physics and beam dynamics. Our goal is to develop the first time-resolved electron microscope capable of acquiring single shot images with picosecond temporal resolution and nanometer spatial resolution.

Suggested Skills: Upper Division E&M and/or Classical Mechanics preferred. The project will be mostly theory/computation, as it will be related to the design of electron optics for a variable magnification microscope, but there could be practical aspects of it (for example measuring magnets). Will mostly use commercial software that there is prior knowledge of programming needed. Some knowledge of Matlab to interpret and postprocess data might be useful.

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Research in the Miao lab lies at the interface of physics, nanoscience, and biology. Our lab has played a major role in pioneering a three-dimensional imaging approach based upon the principle of using coherent diffraction in combination with a method of direct phase recovery called oversampling. Our lab aims to tackle major scientific challenges by improving imaging technology and probing physical properties of materials at the single-atom level using optical lasers, coherent X-rays, and electrons.

Suggested Skills: Some knowledge of Python and/or Matlab is preferred.

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Jose Rodriguez’s students in the lab work on visualizing the shapes of molecules with atomic resolution. This tells us about the ways in which atoms are arranged and interact within the molecules to give them a specific shape and function. These functions include the formation of ice and clouds, all of the biology that occurs in living systems including the events that cause disease. We use electron microscopes to inspect molecules and use computing to analyze the results with atomic detail.

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Students in Hong Zhou’s lab work on atomic modeling of protein and nucleic acid complexes. Please visit Dr. Zhou’s CNSI websitemicrobiology website, and his group website for more information about the research in this lab.

University of California, Berkeley

Our work takes place at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Advanced Light Source (ALS) synchrotron facility. At the ALS students will have the chance to work at the new facility for Coherent X-ray Microscopy (COSMIC). Students will have the opportunity to develop existing computing skills, learn about advanced imaging systems and explore the future of x-ray imaging science. Students will also be welcomed into the STROBE community on UC Berkeley campus where they can meet with other imaging scientists.

Suggested Skills: any experience with programming (Python, matlab or C/C++), image manipulation or low power lasers.

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The summer undergraduate will help with a project in reconstructing 3D images of invisible objects by quantitative phase imaging with X-rays, in collaboration with the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The student will work closely with one graduate student to write Python code for image processing and help with data collection for a project in 3D imaging of X-ray phase objects. Some background in optics, image processing (Fourier transforms) and Python will be helpful.

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Andrew Minor’s research interests lie at the intersection of advanced electron microscopy and materials science. His group focuses on the development and application of new and often in situ electron microscopy techniques to image and quantify nanoscale phenomena critical for our understanding of structure-property relationships in materials. These new techniques have impacted our understanding of nanomechanics deformation in metals, polymer structure, laser-materials interactions and phase transformations. A summer intern will be able to work at the National Center for Electron Microscopy in the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, helping to implement new electron microscopy imaging techniques.

Suggested Skills: A background in Matlab/Python and image processing is desirable.

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Research in the Ginsberg lab pushes the limits of spatially resolved spectroscopy and time resolved microscopy in multiple modalities, tailored to answer fundamental and challenging questions that span chemistry, physics, and biology, many of which pertain to interrogating dynamic nanoscale processes in energy-related materials that are formed through deposition from the solution-phase. Although this approach to material formation is facile and energy efficient, it often results in heterogeneous, kinetically trapped structures far from equilibrium. One of our main goals is therefore to elucidate how these materials’ physical structure, including the nature of their heterogeneities and defects, determines their emergent optoelectronic properties. To do so, we conceive and develop multiple new forms of dynamic optical microscopies with sub-diffraction resolution, each tailored to a particular class of materials and their associated femtosecond-to-minutes dynamics. For resolving the dynamics of energy flow we primarily employ ultrafast optical microscopies; to resolve dynamic material structures we perform in situ X-ray scattering, yet primarily extend the applicability cathodoluminescence microscopy to soft materials otherwise too delicate to withstand electron beam illumination.

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Research in Scott Lab uses high resolution characterization with electron microscopy to relate defects and disorder in nanoscale systems to their functionality and evolution through time. Our goal is to combine state-of-the-art characterization with electron microscopy and modern mathematical methods to better understand functional nanoscale materials. Current projects include 3D characterization of twisted nanowires, scanning nanodiffraction studies of crystal-amorphous interfaces, machine learning classification of images of nanoparticles, and multimodal analysis of complex catalysts.

Suggested Skills: Familiarity with MATLAB and Python.

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University of Colorado Boulder

Research in our lab focuses on ultrafast laser and x-ray science and using these new tabletop light sources for imaging and spectroscopy experiments spanning physics, nano and materials science and engineering. The X-ray sources we currently use in medicine, security screening, and science are in essence the same X-ray light bulb source that Röntgen used in 1895. In the same way that visible lasers can concentrate light energy far better than a light bulb, a directed beam of X-rays would have many useful applications in science and technology. To achieve this and make a practical, tabletop-scale, X-ray laser source, we transforming a beam of light from a visible femtosecond laser into a beam of directed X-rays. This makes it possible to build near-perfect X-ray microscopes that can capture how materials function.

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Our lab’s interests lie in linear and nonlinear optical spectroscopy at surfaces and of nanostructures. For simultaneous spatial information we explore new routes for ultrahigh resolution optical imaging far beyond the diffraction limit. Topics include single molecule spectroscopy, surface photochemistry, molecular plasmonics, as well as surface electron dynamics and electron-phonon interaction.

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The research in Dr. Piestun’s group deals with the control and processing of optical radiation at two significant spatial and temporal scales: the nanometer and the femtosecond. Interest in this area arises from the existence of new phenomena occurring at these scales and the fascinating applications in new devices and systems.

Suggested Skills: Motivation to succeed.

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Fort Lewis College

The Nanofabrication and Characterization Laboratory at Fort Lewis College is equipped with thin film processing equipment, electro-chemical reaction cells, a custom-built high vacuum probe station and characterization instruments such as an atomic force microscope and a field emission scanning electron microscope. Dr. Jessing’s research involves the formation and characterization of novel materials applied to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices with target applications in exotic propulsion systems, electron field emission devices, and organ-on-chips.

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The current mission of the Embedded Systems lab at Fort Lewis College is to detect low-concentrated microorganisms, particles, organic matters from a large volume of liquid using optical-electro techniques (fluorescence and Raman Spectroscopy). The targets can be single-molecule DNA, bacteria, fluorescence particles, proteins, or Amino acid. The detection techniques are Droplet Digital PCR, rtPCR, Raman Spectroscopy, and High-Speed Imaging. The lab is currently funded by NSF, EPA, and the Department of Education.

The lab is equipped with modern bench-top electronic testing instruments, a Photron MimiUX 32 GB high-speed camera (>5000 fps), an AmScope fluorescence microscope, various microcontroller and embedded system kits, FPGA demo boards, an integrated circuit wire bonder, Cadence Virtuoso IC design environment, a GPU work station (5000 GPU cores), programmable LED lasers (200 mW), and microfluidic device fabrication facilities.

We are looking for hardworking and self-motivated students for summer internships. Candidates with a background in electronics, embedded systems, optics, and biomedical engineering are highly recommended to apply.

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Florida International University

Biomedical Optics is a multidisciplinary research discipline that includes physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry and engineering. Our research at FIU focuses on the development of optics-based devices and methodologies for diagnosis of disease that can be used clinically. We are seeking motivated undergraduate student that are interested in learning about optics and medicine. During the (8-10 weeks) summer Research Experience for Undergraduates the students will first learn the fundamentals of optics and light travel into biological media. Particularly they will focus on polarized light methodologies. The second part of the experience will involve the design and development of portable imaging tools that can be deployed at the point of care.

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Our lab develops scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM) based multifunctional imaging technique for live cell imaging. We are interested to develop new imaging modality of SICM to map the extracellular potential/surface charge in real time and with high spatial resolution, and correlate the electrostatic properties of cell membrane with cell activities and functions. We are also interested to integrate the nanoprobe based electrical measurement approach with conventional and nonconventional optical imaging techniques and surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy to study single molecule dynamics. The summer undergraduate will work closely with a graduate student and the typical work include sample preparation, nanoprobe fabrication and characterization, image and spectroscopy acquisition and data analysis.

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University of California Irvine

The work done in the Ultrafast Laser Plasma Interactions lab focuses on generating compact radiation sources in high intensity laser matter interactions. Laser pulses with durations of femtoseconds can achieve extreme intensities which can instantly ionize matter into plasma and drive electrons relativistic in a single optical cycle. This highly complex and nonlinear regime is capable of generating particle beams of electrons and light ions, as well as coherent x-ray sources. We study these interactions both through experiments in vacuum chambers as well as numerically with high performance computing. SURS scholars have performed projects on Laser Wakefield acceleration, high harmonic generation, laser mode shaping, and coherent diffractive imaging.

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Our work focuses on physics education research. At UCI, a large public and minority serving institution, we are developing and implementing new ways of teaching introductory physics, and use various techniques including interviews and statistical analysis to evaluate the effectiveness. We are looking for student researchers who are enthusiastic about teaching and learning, and who would like to develop their programming and data analysis skills.

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Research in the Siwy group is performed at the interface of biological physics, condensed matter physics, and nanoscience. In one direction of research we use polymer and solid-state nanopores as templates for biomimetic channels as well as ionic analogues of semiconductor diodes and transistors. We also use microfluidic approaches to characterize mechanical properties and dynamic shape of biological channels. Individual cells are observed simultaneously with a high speed camera and by electrical measurements. Physical and mechanical properties of cells are correlated with the cells’ biological functions.

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SURS Past Participants

Pietro Musumeci

(2020) Cecilia Abbamonte, “Visualizing Non-Equilibrium States of Matter”
(2019) Amir Amhaz, “Designing and Simulating RF Compression Cavity”
(2017) Aline Tomasian, “Permanent Magnet Quadrupoles for Relativistic Electron Imaging”

John Miao

(2020) Ruiyao Liu, “3D Reconstruction on Van der Waals heterostructure”
(2019) Jena Shields, “Cryogenic Electron Tomography Reconstruction”
(2018) Stavrini Tsagari, “Revealing the history of our solar system through X-ray spectroscopy”

Jose Rodriguez

(2020) Yukai Tomsovic, “Nanomechanical Characterization of α-Synuclein with Cryo-EM”
(2019) Hannah Hoffmann, “Crystallizing amyloidogenic peptide segments from the amyloid protein LECT2”
(2018) Ayesha Hamid, “Structural Analysis of Enantioselective Peptide Nano-assemblies by Micro Electron Diffraction”
(2018) Ronquiajah Bowman, “Curing Disease by Understanding the Structure of Brain Prions”

Hong Zhou

(2020) Jennifer Miao, “Imaging Neuronal Synapses using RESIRE”
(2019) Julia Greenbaum, “Particle-Picking Diffocins, Bacteriocins of Clostridium Difficile”
(2018) Phebe Ozirsky, “Cryo Electron Microscopy for Structure Determination of Spliceosomes”

Roger Falcone

(2018) Joseph Moscoso, “Advanced Scanning Patterns for X-ray Ptychography”

Naomi Ginsberg

(2019) Jack Tulyag, “Watching Crystals Grow: Kinetic Studies of Rubrene Crystallization”
(2018) Namrata Ramesh, “Synthesizing Various Shapes of Mn Doped Perovskite”

Andrew Minor

(2019) Lily Shiau
(2019) Jay Aindow, “3D Hardness Mapping”
(2018) Hillal Ibiyemi, “Automated Feedback Control for Alignment of Laser Beams in Microscopes”
(2018) Brian Chen, “Correlated nanobeam diffraction and tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy measurements”

Colin Ophus

(2020) Natolya Barber, “Prismatic”

Mary Scott

(2019) Andy Wu, “HRTEM Image Generation using Generative Adversarial Networks”

Laura Waller

(2020) Gerardo Gutierrez, “Diffuser Imaging”
(2020) Eric Li
(2019) Matthew Wells, “Characterizing 3D Fluid Flow Around V. Convallaria Via Inline Holography”
(2018) Lena Blackmon, “Seeing the Micro-Invisible: Phase Imaging via Off Axis Holography”
(2017) Camille Biscarrat
(2017) Shreyas Parthasarathy, “DiffuserCam: Diffuser-based Lensless Imaging”

Ke Xu

(2020) Aaron Ghrist, “Application of Neural Networks to Diffusion in STORM Images”

Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn

(2020) Baldwin Akin-Varner, “Predicting X-ray Diffraction from Magnetic Skyrmion Materials”
(2020) Matthew Jacobs, “High-Resolution, Quantitative, Complex Beam Polarimeter”
(2020) Hannah Hoffman, “Simulating a Grism Stretcher using Zemax”
(2019) Baldwin Varner, “Uncovering the hidden charge density wave phase in TaSe2”
(2019) Matthew Jacobs, “Characterizing Fibers for Laser-like X-Ray Generation”
(2019) Allison Liu, “A Comprehensive Characterization of Orbital Angular Momentum Beams using Gerchberg-Saxton”
(2018) Hannah Hoffmann, “Optimizing a lensless microscope using ptychographic coherent diffractive imaging”
(2018) Juan Boza, “Construction of a Hybrid Fourier Microscope Incorporating Visible Light and X-rays”
(2018) Paul Adelgren, “Imaging Magnetic Topological Features with Magneto-Optical Kerr Effect Microscopy”
(2018) Christian Montes, “The Extension of Imaging by Integrated Stitched Spectrograms”

Heather Lewandowski

(2020) Mary-Ellen Phillips, “Teaching Physics Labs Amid a Global Pandemic”

Markus Raschke

(2019) Diana Rossell-Eddy, “Investigating Photoinduced Halide Migration in Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Perovskites”
(2019) Caleb Wexler, “Correlative Mapping of Chemical Heterogeneity”
(2018) Andrew Voitiv, “Ti:Sapphire laser construction for characterization of thermo-plasmonic nanotips”
(2018) Diana Rossell-Eddy, “Development of an Ultraviolet- Visible Absorption and Photoluminescence Spectrometer for use in the Characterization of FAMAC Perovskite and other energy-related materials”

Rafael Piestun

(2019) Nathan Keith, “Cracking the Code: Simplifying Endoscopy Calibration Procedures with Fluorescence Images”
(2018) Gwendalynn Roebke, “”Propagation of Light through Turbid Media: Observing and drawing conclusions about the composition and behavior of tissue mimicking materials as based on their diffusive properties”

Noah Finkelstein

(2017) Tamia Williams, “Characterizing the Role of Arts Education on the Physics Identity of Black Individuals”

David Blake

(2020) Mara Morrissey, “Utilizing THP-1 monocytes for Porous Silicon (PSi) dissolution and studying its effect on THP-1 macrophage phenotype and cellular expression”

Jeff Jessing

(2020) Madeline Stalder and Koby Vargas, “Nanostructuring to Improve Thermoelectric Device Efficiency”
(2020) Cooper Wiens, “Lung-on-a-Chip: Porous Silicon Membranes & Cell Co-Culture”
(2020) Jessica Fiala, “Lung-on-a-Chip: Fluidic Modeling of the System”
(2020) Javionn Ramsey, “Porous Silicon Rocket”
(2019) Cooper Price Wiens, “Lung-on-a-Chip/Live-Cell Imaging Platform: Overview”
(2019) Madeline Stadler, “Lung-on-a-Chip: Thin Silicon Through-Wafer Anodization Process Development”
(2019) Avery Killifer, “Lung-on-a-Chip: Cell Co-Culture Methodology Development”
(2019) Lily Vonesh, “Lung-on-a-Chip: Bulk Silicon Thinning Process Development”
(2019) Elizabeth Blackwater, “Porous Silicon Rockets”
(2018) Alexander J. (AJ) Biffl
(2018) Nate Curmano, “Developing Sprays for Leading Edge Imaging Diagnostics”

Yiyan Li

(2020) Tommy Swimmer, “Bacteria Identification with Raman Spectroscopy”
(2020) Denzel Farmer, “Bacteria Identification with Raman Spectroscopy: The Network”
(2020) Nic Theobald, “Bacteria Identification with Raman Spectroscopy: Machine Learning and Neural Networks”
(2020) Keenan Harvey, “Bacteria Identification using Raman Spectroscopy: Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering”
(2020) Kaitlyn Kukula, “Bacterial Identification with Raman Spectroscopy: Data and Model Visualization”

Megan Paciaroni

(2019) Ali Doumbi
(2019) Kat Detmer, “Particle Image Velocimetry via Optical Time-of-Flight Sectioning (PIVOTS)”
(2019) Jessica Fiala
(2019) Nicole Wiley
(2018) Jodi James, “Quick-shot Spray! Backscattering Image of Sprays”
(2018) Nathan Keith, “Image Processing For Particle Sprays”
(2018) Michael Wolfersperger, “Two-Photon Laser Induced Fluorescence Imaging with an Optical Kerr Effect Gate”
(2017) Hannah Hoffman, “Interferometry, Holography, and Microscopy”
(2017) Paul Adelgren

Jessica Ramella-Roman

(2020) Natalia Escobar and Niels Logtenberg, “Fourier Ptychography”
(2019) Romin Patel, “Mueller Matrix Imaging via Polarized Microscopy”
(2019) Michael Ricardo, “Mueller Matrix Imaging via Polarized Microscopy”
(2018) Michelle Foreman, “Non-destructive Microscopic Visualization of Nerve Fascicles”
(2018) Maily Hernandez, “Non-destructive Microscopic Visualization of Nerve Fascicles”

Jin He

(2020) Catherine Fraga and Daniel Cotayo, “Confocal Fluorescence Imaging Of Engineered Cardiac Tissue”
(2019) Alex Rodriguez, “Custom Incubator for Microscopy Imaging”
(2019) Antonio Martinez, “MATLAB interface development for 3-Axis Optical Stage with Piezos and Scientific Camera for an Epi-Illumination Fluorescence Microscope”

Franklin Dollar

(2020) Yarin Heffes, “Laser-Solid Interaction Simulations”
(2019) Mirella Soto, “High Repetition Rate Targetry for Laser Driven Ion Accelerators”
(2018) Yasmeen Musthafa, “Coherent Diffractive Imaging: Phase Retrieval and Ptychography”
(2018) Tina Tran, “Coherent Diffractive Imaging: Significance”
(2018) Alfred Macias, “Variables Affecting Student Performance in Introductory Physics Classes”
(2018) Danny Attiyah, “Creating Custom Wavefronts for Terawatt Laser Systems”
(2018) Amanda Bell, “Coherent Diffractive Imaging: Experimental Setup and Noise Reduction”
(2017) Edgar Ibarra
(2017) Cheyenne Nelson, “Spectral Tuning of High Harmonic Generation (HHG)”

Zuzanna Siwy

(2019) Daniel Spalinski, “Applying Machine Learning to Analyze Cell Deformation in Microchannels”