Penn State University

Penn State

Research in Neutrino Particle Astrophysics and Nanoscale Physics and Materials

Research in Neutrino Particle Astrophysics.

The Pennsylvania State University, in University Park PA, is a premier site for multi-messenger astrophysics, the study of astrophysics that uses the combined information neutrinos, photons, charged particles, and gravitational waves to create a deeper understanding of complex astrophysical phenomena. Astrophysicists in the Particle Astrophysics group, the Center for Multi-messenger Astrophysics, and the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos at Penn State use the rich information offered by all four messengers to paint a coherent picture of the non-thermal universe.

Research in Particle Astrophysics will be with Prof. Stephanie Wissel and focus particularly on Neutrinos. Neutrinos in particular offer a unique window into the universe, because they interact sole through the weak force, such that they can be used to probe extreme conditions throughout the universe and to test physics at energies beyond the standard models.

Possible projects include:

  • Working on a concept study for a new neutrino telescope called the Beamforming Elevated Array for Cosmic Neutrinos (BEACON), which uses an array of radio-frequency antennas trained on the horizon, to search for radio emission from showers produced after a tau neutrino interacts in the Earth.
    • Simulations of the sensitivity of BEACON to tau neutrinos
    • Searching for cosmic rays and other transients in the BEACON detector 
    • Designing and testing a site survey module for the development of a tau neutrino observatory
    • Upgrades, calibration and field work at the BEACON site

Research in Nanoscale Physics in Materials (REU)

The Physics Department has hosted an REU in Condensed Matter Physics and Materials for almost 20 years Research in Nanoscale Physics varies from year to year, and can be computational or experimental. Topics in the past have included studying 2-dimensional (2D) layered materials, nano-ribbons, and qbits. These and other nano-structured materials have exciting electrical, optical, and magnetic properties, and have been the source of new understanding of condensed matter physics. Techniques used vary from using cleanroom nanofabrication facilities to create samples, to simulations of nanostructures and behavior, to nano-device construction, to measuring electrical, magnetic, photonic properties of new 2D and nano-sized materials under extreme conditions.

For more information about possible projects please see


Program Details

What is it?

Penn State hopes to recruit at least two CAMPARE students who will work for 10 weeks in the summer on a project within Neutrino Particle Astrophysics (with Prof. Stephanie Wissel) or Nanoscale Condensed Matter Physics with faculty involved in Penn State’s Nanoscale Physics REU program.  At this time projects may be virtual-remote or in person depending on the situation at Penn State University in the summer of 2021.

Participants in all research projects will be embedded in the Penn State Nanoscale and Materials REU, through which they will receive mentoring support, meet other summer interns, engage the public through outreach activities, and receive professional development training. At the end of the summer, you will present your work to other students and Penn State researchers at a research symposium.

Selected students will receive a $5,500 stipend for work. In addition, participants will be provided with housing and each student’s will receive up to $700 toward travel expenses. The program dates for the summer of 2021 is from June 1 to August 6 2021, inclusive. It may be possible to arrange alternative dates. 


When and How to Apply

Applications are due February 1, 2021. To apply to the program, follow the Application Instructions. In addition, you must ask two faculty members (or others familiar with your academic or work background) to submit letters of reference using the link on the application instructions page.

Indicate their names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses in your on-line application where appropriate. It is your responsibility to confirm that these letters have been sent and failure to obtain these two letters will render your application incomplete and lead to its rejection without review.

CSU logo NSF

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants DUE-1741863, AST-1636646, and AST-1836019.