Research Projects

This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. You can browse all the projects, or view only projects in the following categories:


Center for Materials Under Extreme Environment (CMUXE) - Undergraduate research opportunities

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computational/Mathematical, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Nuclear Engineering
Professor: Ahmed Hassanein
Desired experience:   Minimum GPA 3.5
Number of positions: 3-5

The Center for Materials Under Extreme Environment (CMUXE) is looking for undergraduate research students for the following areas:

1. Ion beams and plasma interaction with materials for various applications
2. Magnetic and Inertial Nuclear Fusion
3. Laser-produced plasma (LPP) and Discharge-produced plasma (DPP)
4. Nanostructuring of material by ion and laser beams
5. High energy density physics applications
6. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS)
7. Plasma for biomedical applications
8. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography
9. Computational physics for nuclear fusion, lithography, and other applications

Research of undergraduate students at CMUXE during previous SURF programs has resulted in students acquiring new knowledge in different areas and led to several joint publications, participation in national and international conferences, seminars, and provided experience in collaborative international research.

Several undergraduate and graduate students working in CMUXE have won national and international awards and have presented their work in several countries including Australia, China, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and Russia.

Position is open to undergraduates in all engineering and science disciplines. High level commitment and participation in group meetings are compulsory. Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the center website below for further information.


Enabling Ultra-High Diesel Engine Efficiencies Through Flexible Valve Actuation

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Greg Shaver
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   Thermodynamics, measurement systems; if possible: IC engines, control systems
Number of positions: 1

The Purdue team is focused on improving the efficiency of diesel engines through flexibility in the valvetrain. As one example, cylinder deactivation allows increases in efficiency, and exhaust gas after treatment effectiveness, via reduction in airflow and pumping penalty when 2, 3, or 4 of 6 cylinder are deactivated (both fueling and cylinder valve motions are deactivated). The Purdue team utilizes both simulations and a unique multi-cylinder engine system to study this and other strategies. The project includes funding from, and interaction with, both Cummins and Eaton.

More information:


Hydrophobic Zeolites for Applications in Adsorption and Catalysis

Research categories:  Chemical
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: Rajamani Gounder
Preferred major(s): Chemical Engineering
Number of positions: 1

Zeolites are microporous materials whose internal pores and external properties can be functionalized to be hydrophobic. These materials open new opportunities for performing selective catalytic reactions in liquid water, and for selective separations of non-polar and organic molecules from polar and aqueous solvents. These are fundamental scientific issues that are relevant in the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to renewable chemicals and fuels, and for the conversion of natural and shale gas. This project will involve learning techniques to synthesize and functionalize hydrophobic zeolites and to characterize their hydrophobic properties.


In Situ Strain Mapping Experiments

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor: Michael Sangid
Preferred major(s): AAE, MSE, or ME
Number of positions: 2

The research we do is building relationships between the material's microstructure and the subsequent performance of the material, in terms of fatigue, fracture, creep, delamination, corrosion, plasticity, etc. The majority of our group’s work has been on advanced alloys and composites. Both material systems have direct applications in Aerospace Engineering, as we work closely with these industries. We are looking for a motivated, hard-working student interested in research within the field of experimental mechanics of materials.

The in situ experiments include advanced materials testing, using state-of-the-art 3d strain mapping. We deposit self-assembled sub-micron particles on the material’s surface and track their displacement as we deform the specimen. Coupled with characterization of the materials microstructure, we can obtain strain localization as a precursor to failure. Specific projects look at increasing the structural integrity of additive manufactured materials and increasing fidelity of lifing analysis to introduce new light weight materials into applications.


Metal-exchanged Zeolites for NOx Pollution Abatement Catalysis

Research categories:  Chemical, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Chemical Engineering
Professor: Rajamani Gounder
Preferred major(s): Chemical Engineering
Number of positions: 1

Copper- and iron-exchanged zeolite catalysts are used commercially for the abatement of nitrogen oxide pollutants in lean-burn diesel engine exhaust. The structure and density of metal ion active sites in zeolites depends on the distribution of framework aluminum atoms that serve as anchoring points for the active metal species. This research project will involve investigating methods to synthesize and control the arrangement of framework aluminum atoms in zeolites, and to characterize the aluminum distribution using metal ion-exchange techniques. These findings will be used to tailor the structure and reactivity of catalysts used for environmental protection and pollution abatement strategies in diesel vehicles.


VACCINE-Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Innovative Technology/Design
School/Dept.: ECE
Professor: David Ebert
Preferred major(s): Computer Engineering, Computer Science, other Engineering majors with programming experience
Desired experience:   Programming experience in C++, others as described below
Number of positions: 5

We are currently searching for students with strong programming and math backgrounds to work on a variety of projects at the Visual Analytics branch (VACCINE) of the Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence in Command, Control and Interoperability. Students will each be assigned individual projects focusing on developing novel data analysis and exploration techniques using interactive techniques. Students should be well versed in C++ upon entering the SURF program, and will be expected to learn skills in R, OpenGL, and/or a variety of other libraries over the course of the summer.

Ongoing project plans will include research that combines soil, weather and crop data from sensing technology to provide critical crop answers for California wine growers and producers, programming for criminal incident report analysis, incorporating local statistics into volume rendering on the GPGPU, healthcare data analysis, and analyzing customizable topics and anomalies that occur in real-time via social media networks Twitter and Facebook. If you have CUDA programming experience or an intense interest to learn it, please indicate this on your application form. We also plan to have a project that will assist first responders in accident extrication procedures.

The ideal candidate will have good working knowledge of modern web development technologies, including client-side technologies such as HTML5, SVG, JavaScript, AJAX, and DOM, as well as server side components such as PHP, Tomcat, MySQL, etc. Experience in visualization or computer graphics is a plus. The project will likely be based on the D3 ( web-based visualization toolkit; prior experience using D3 or other visualization APIs for the web is particularly welcome.

Of the past undergraduate students that have worked in the center, five of their research projects have led to joint publications in our laboratory and at many of our areas' top venues. Sample projects include visual analytics for law enforcement data, health care data and sports data. Students will be assigned individual projects based on the center's needs which will be determined at a later date. To learn more about the VACCINE Center go to the website provided below.

More information:


nanoHUB Research in Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Other
Professor: NCN Faculty
Preferred major(s): Electrical, Computer, Materials, or Mechanical Engineering; Physics; Computer Science
Desired experience:   Serious interest in and enjoyment of programming, programming skills in any language, physics coursework.
Number of positions: 15-20

Join the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) team and help build the growing set of resources being used in all Top 50 Colleges of Engineering (US News & World Report rankings) and by over 300,000 annual users in 172 countries. nanoHUB provides over 340 simulation tools that users run from a web browser in a scientific computing cloud. You will work with one of the NCN collaborative investigators, such as Professors Gerhard Klimeck, Ale Strachan, or Peter Bermel.

SURF students learn the Rappture ( toolkit that makes it quick and easy to develop powerful, interactive, web-based applications. These skills are utilized by working with nanotechnologists to put their applications and supporting information on As part of our team, you will be engaged in the National Science Foundation-funded effort that is connecting theory, experiment and computation in a way that makes a difference for the future of nanotechnology and the future of scientific communities. Other undergraduate researchers before you have each been able to literally impact thousands of nanoHUB users (for an example, see; join their legacy and create something that will build your own skills and will help others.