Division of Physical Sciences Research

Scientific research is one of the few ways new knowledge is generated. Doing research will challenge you to apply the skills you learn in the classes throughout your college career. However, there is no road map, because no one has been there before. You are working to generate new knowledge for humanity!

Research in the Physical Sciences Division spans a range of topics in applied Chemistry, Physics, and Earth System Science. Faculty research includes studies such as identifying new drugs to cure diseases, the global transport and chemistry of air pollutants, and the birth and death of stars in our solar system. Some faculty are also doing research in best practices for Physics and Chemistry education. Many faculty have been nationally recognized for their research work and have obtained grants for their research from highly competitive funders such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, NASA, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

UWB students are involved with all faculty research projects. Students can help develop project ideas, run experiments, and do data analysis and data interpretation. Students also work with faculty on presenting their work to the wider scientific community through scientific papers or presentations at regional or national science meetings. Students can get credit for working on research via the appropriate 499 course (e.g., BCHEM 499, BPHYS 499, or BEARTH 499).

To do research with a faculty member, first contact the faculty member who is most aligned with your interests and degree (see list of faculty projects below). If your interests align and the professor has an opening in their group, you will work with them to develop an agreement for conducting research. Through hands-on research, students gain valuable experience and develop professional skills, both of which are valued by employers and graduate schools.

Student Research Opportunities

Faculty Research Projects

Peter Anderson, Computational Modeling in Biochemistry

Computational modeling of protein structures and their non-covalent interactions with small molecules.

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Luisa T. Buchman, Numerical Relativity

Solving the Einstein equations on a computer for inspiralling and merging binary black holes, capturing the resulting gravitational waveforms, and using these waveforms to aid in the detection and interpretation of signals from gravitational wave detectors.

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Dan Jaffe, Atmospheric Chemistry

Local, regional, and global sources of pollution in the Western US, with an emphasis on ozone, aerosols, and mercury.

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Joey Shapiro Key, Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Detecting gravitational wavs and characterizing the sources.

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Hyung Kim, Chemistry and Biology of Metalloproteins

Spectroelectrochemistry of metalloproteins, assembly dynamics of supramolecular metalloprotein complexes, and intracellular heme trafficking.

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Lori Robins, Biochemistry


Using kinetic isotope effects and protein modifications to understand biological reactions such as DNA cleavage and thioester hydrolysis

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Paola Rodrí­guez Hidalgo, Astronomy & Astrophysics

  • Exoplanets atmospheres—searching for trends between the properties of exoplanets and their atmospheres
  • Quasars—finding the most extreme outflows around supermassive black holes in galaxies far, far away
  • Astronomy education—studying the benefits of community-based learning in astronomy courses

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Eric Salathé, Regional Climate Change

Improving global climate models by focusing on regional climate change in the US Pacific Northwest

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Rachel E. Scherr, Physics Education Research

Equity and inclusion in physics teaching and learning

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