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:

Physical Science


Assembly and Test of Ocean Winds Remote Sensing Instrument for the Hurricane Hunter Aircraft

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Electronics, Mechanical Systems, Physical Science
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: James Garrison
Preferred major(s): AAE, ECE
Desired experience:   Good programming skills are essential to this project. Embedded programming and FPGA experience are strongly desired, though not required. Experience with electronic hardware, either academically or through extracurricular activities (e.g. amateur radio, robotic competitions, etc.) is also strongly desired. The project will require precise documentation, so good English writing skills are also a necessity.
Number of positions: 3

This project will involve the development and testing of improved software for an experimental remote sensing instrument designed to measure ocean wind speed and roughness in tropical cyclones. This instrument has flown on the NOAA “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft during the last season. It will be returned to Purdue to be updated, and improved based upon our experience with its performance during these flights. Using a fraction of the power, and requiring a far simple calibration process than the existing airborne radar systems, this new technology has the potential to contribute to our understanding of tropical storm development and to improve our hurricane forecast capabilities. In addition, the data may be used to calibrate a NASA satellite mission, CYGNSS, scheduled for a 2016 launch, that will utilize a similar measurement principle.


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. Materials modification and nanostructuring by energetic ion beams
2. Nanostructuring by ultrafast lasers
3. High energy density physics in ultrafast laser laboratory
4. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy
5. Experimental and computational studies of non-thermal plasmas for biological applications
6. Computational modeling of physics processes for various plasma applications; in laser, discharge, and fusion devices

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.

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


Crystal Engineering of Organic Crystals

Research categories:  Chemical, Computational/Mathematical, Material Science and Engineering, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Industrial & Physical Pharmacy
Professor: Tonglei Li
Preferred major(s): chemistry, chemical engineering
Number of positions: 1

Crystallization of organic materials plays a central role in drug development. Mechanistic understanding of nucleation and crystal growth remains primitive and scantily developed despite decades of investigation. Of the same organic molecule, distinct crystal structures can be routinely formed. The intricacy of the so-called polymorphism largely originates from the rich and unpredictable supramolecular tessellations supported by intermolecular interactions. The subtleties in strength and directionality of the interactions are controlled by structural diversity and conformational flexibility of molecule. In fact, it is these molecular interactions that make organic crystal structures fascinating as it is unlikely to predict crystal structures of a given organic molecule a priori.

In this project, the student will learn how to grow drug crystals, characterize them, and connect the structural outcome with crystallization conditions. It is expected that the student will conduct both experimental and computational studies in order to understand formation mechanisms of drug crystals.

More information:


Oil-in-water Emulsion Flows through Confined Channels

Research categories:  Chemical, Computational/Mathematical, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Arezoo Ardekani
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Physics
Desired experience:   Fluid dynamics, Programming experience
Number of positions: 1

The main goal of this project is to characterize transport of monodisperse and poly-disperse oil-in-water emulsions through confined channels by utilizing LAMMPS. A mesoscopic method called dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) will be used to capture the interaction of the droplets with hydrophilic and hydrophobic boundaries of the channel. We will quantify the transport properties of the emulsion for different scenarios, by varying the droplet size, surface properties of the channel, and addition of surfactants. Surfactant molecules are amphiphilic molecules, containing a hydrophobic tail and a hydrophilic head.


P-Band Satellite Remote Sensing Antenna

Research categories:  Agricultural, Aerospace Engineering, Electronics, Environmental Science, Mechanical Systems, Physical Science
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: James Garrison
Preferred major(s): AAE,ECE,ME,Physics
Desired experience:   Basic understanding of electromagnetism is desired, but not required. Experience with electronic hardware, either academically or through extracurricular activities (e.g. amateur radio, robotic competitions, etc … ), is strongly desired. Experience with metal fabrication is also strongly required.
Number of positions: 2

This project will build an antenna for receiving satellite transmissions in P-band (225-390 MHz). We are using these signals as a source of illumination in a “bistatic” radar configuration, comparing the direct signal observed along a line-of-sight to the satellite, with the scattered signal reflected from the land surface. Theory suggests that we can use this comparison to estimate the water content within the top 1 m of the soil (called the Root-Zone Soil Moisture, RZSM). This is a very important quantity for understanding the transportation of water from the soil into plant roots, and this measurement has applications to monitoring agricultural production and climate change. The project will require the design of an antenna for a specific satellite frequency, based upon an amateur radio handbook. Mechanical design and fabrication is also very important as the antenna will be installed outdoors and must withstand extreme weather (rain, snow, ice), large temperature ranges, and exposure to wildlife.