Available Undergraduate Projects and Internships

Members of the group offer a number of short projects suitable for undergraduate students either as summer internships, or as part of the 3rd year Independent Project or Extended Independent Project modules at Queen Mary University of London, as well as the MSci Investigative Projects or Review Projects at Queen Mary University of London.

If you are interested in any of the topics below, or have suggestions for a new topic please contact the relevant member of staff directly. Note that not all projects are available and are assigned on a first come, first served basis. You are invited to discuss whether a particular project is suitable for summer internships or any of the projects.

Summer Internships

Undergraduate students looking for a summer internship are invited to work with us on a variety of projects. Students from all universities are eligible. Interns are expected to work with a member of staff on a particular project for typically 8 weeks for which the student will be paid. In order to be eligible, students must

  • find a supervisor willing to work with the student
  • obtain a 1st or 2:1 in end of year examinations

Only a limited number of internships are offered each year, thus competition for places is high, and only the best qualified students will be selected. Please take a look at the projects listed below some of which are marked as being suitable for internships, then contact the relevant member of staff to discuss the project. You should supply the following:

  • a complete and up-to-date CV
  • a transcript of your university results to date
  • a statement of your proficiency in C/C++ and unix/linux computing
  • a statement of why you would like to work on the project
  • dates between which you are available to work on the project

Applicants are advised to contact staff members as early as possible. The final decisions will be made known in mid-June after the summer exam results are known.

Index of Projects

Global Warming and Cosmic Rays
Micro Black Hole Production at the LHC
Software Extensions to a Micro Black Hole Simulation Program
Extraction of Quark and Gluon Densities of the Proton
Studies of Di-Muon production at the LHC
Physics Potential of a Proposed Electron-Proton Collider
Rutherford scattering - Experimental Project
Muon detectors and muon lifetime
Review of production, decays and properties of the top quark
Neutrino masses and Solar Neutrino Oscillations
Neutrino Oscillations at T2K
Neutrino Oscillations Review
Massive Neutrinos and Cosmology
CKM and CP Violation
SNO+ Detector
Test of violation of Lorentz invariance with neutrinos

Modelling Atmospheric neutrino flux prediction at Antarctica
 

Global Warming and Cosmic Rays

The IPCC is the United Nations body that assesses the scientific evidence for, and possible causes of climate change. In its 4th Assesment Report they have published a huge body of evidence from many different areas of science, which taken together indicate a globally warming climate caused by human greenhouse gas emissions. In this project the student will review the latest evidence and will have the opportunity to look in detail at issues regarding estimates of the past climate, namely discrepancies in the proxy temperature series, and the evidence for the global or local nature of the Medieval Warm Period, and the Little Ice Age. Recent debate centres on the role of the sun in the Earth's climate. The Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark has claimed a link between solar activity and cosmic rays which seed cloud formation and therefore affects the albedo of the Earth. This is hotly contested and some of the assumptions are being tested by the CLOUD experiment at CERN which plans to release first data in 2010.
Contact: Dr. Eram Rizvi
Suitable for: review project

Micro Black Hole Production at the LHC

Some models of low scale quantum gravity predict the formation of micro-black holes in collisions of high energy particles far below the Planck scale and within the energy reach of the Large Hadron Collider. In this project a simulation program BlackMax will be used to investigate the parameter space for some of these models and to estimate the uncertainty on the predictions arising from an imprecise knowledge of the momentum distributions of quarks and gluons within the proton. The project is split into two parts. The first part will require extensive use of C++ to create compact and efficient data structures within which to store many collision simulations. In the second part of the project the ROOT program developed at CERN will be used to analyse the simulated collisions and to estimate the uncertainties on the predicted cross sections. The parameter space will be explored to reject models which may already be inconsistent with existing collider data.
Contact: Dr. Eram Rizvi
Suitable for: independent and extended projects

Software Extensions to a Micro Black Hole Simulation Program

In this computing project the student will interface the BlackMax simulation program to several additional software packages. BlackMax simulates high energy collisions of particles that may produce quantum Black Holes, for example at the LHC. The program is written in C and runs on any unix-like environments. The first task would be to re-package the software using the gnu Autoconf tools. This allows users to automatically compile and run the code without worrying about compiler version etc. The second task will be to interface BlackMax to Rivet which is a validation tool used compare simulations of high energy physics processes with data. Finally the student will interface BlackMax to the FastJet code which uses clustering algorithms to form "jets" from final state hadrons coming from any high energy particle collisions. This is a computing project requiring good knowledge of C/C++ programming as well as a familiarity with linux operating systems.
Contact: Dr. Eram Rizvi
Suitable for: Internship

Physics Potential of a Proposed New Electron-Proton Collider

A proposal is being made for a new electron-proton collider to run simultaneously with the LHC at CERN. In this project the student will study the possible physics impact of such a new collider in determining electroweak parameters of the Standard Model of particle physics, and the parton densities of the proton. This project will make use of the simple FORTRAN programming language. A working knowledge of linux operating systems would be advantageous.
Contact: Dr. Eram Rizvi
Suitable for: Internship, independent, extended and investigative projects

Extraction of Quark and Gluon Densities of the Proton

The quark and gluon content of the proton can only be determined directly from experimental data of high energy collisions. The extraction of these "parton" density functions (PDFs) uses a least squares approach to minimise a χ2 function comparing data with theortical expections based on the PDFs which are parameterised by polynomial functions. The extraction involves finding the best parameters of the polynomial functions consistent with the data. In this project the student will attempt to estimate the uncertainty on the PDFs arising from the choice of functional form - the so-called parameterisation uncertainty. This will require chosing different forms, or even spline functions. This challenging project is suitable for a mathematically able student with a good grasp of programming and knowledge of the linux operating system. The programming will be done in the simple FORTRAN language.
Contact: Dr. Eram Rizvi
Suitable for: Internship, extended project

Studies of Di-Muon production at the LHC

The LHC has been designed to produce copious quantitites of the Z0 boson whose properties have been determined by the SLC and LEP accelerators previously. In this project simulated LHC data will be used to study the reaction rate (or cross section) of two muons from Z0 decays. Statistical techniques will be used to filter the data and determine the event rate and assess the measurement capability of the ATLAS detector. A knowledge of C++ and linux will be required.
Contact: Dr. Eram Rizvi
Suitable for: Investigative project

Rutherford scattering - Experimental Project

The results of Ernest Rutherford on proving the existence of a nuclear atom will be reproduced in an apparatus on the fifth floor of the Physics Building. This uses a 1.5mC americium 241 alpha source, and a solid state particle detector to study the scattering of alpha particles off heavy elements. The dependence of counting rate on the angle of scattering will be measured and compared with the theoretical predictions for multiple (Thomson) scattering as well as for Rutherford scattering. In addition there is a mechanism to change the gold targets so enabling a check on the thickness. In the second semester the student may use targets of other material to determine the Z dependence. The variation of pressure in the bell jar enables a range and thus energy measurement, and using a variable system of absorbers the energy dependence of scattering can be checked against Rutherford's predictions. Corrections will be made for background and resolution.
Contact: Dr. Eram Rizvi
Suitable for: independent and extended project

Muon detectors and muon lifetime

The project involves measurements of the cosmic muon flux and the muon lifetime. The project uses a set of 3 scintillator ladders equipped with light guides and photomultipliers. Measurements include: description of the PMT waveform, adjusting discriminator thresholds, timing measurements, NIM logic and coincidences, 2/3 efficiency determination, muon lifetime, incidence angle and background subtraction.
Contact:
Suitable for: Extended independent project

Review of production, decays and properties of the top quark

The student will review the physics of production, decay and properties of the top quark both at the Tevatron collider and at the Large Hadron Collider. The top quark is the "youngest" of the fundamental particles, discovered in 1995, but also the heaviest, with a mass roughly similar to a gold nucleus. The mass, production and a number of properties are being probed to understand if the top plays a role in possible extensions of the Standard Model.
Contact:
Suitable for: Review project

Neutrino masses and Solar Neutrino Oscillations

One possible explanation of the `solar neutrino problem' is neutrino oscillations: in their passage towards the solar surface neutrinos produced at the centre of the sun undergo damped, coupled and resonant oscillations by virtue of a continuous change in their interaction with the varying density of solar material. Students will study the quantum physics of this phenomenon starting with the classical coupled pendulum problem, and then carry out simple computer simulations. Acquaintance with a computing language such as JAVA or C++ is required.
Contact: Dr Francesca Di Lodovico
Suitable for: Independent project

Neutrino Oscillations at T2K

Neutrino oscillations is currently an active area of research with new experimental results providing challenges to the Standard Model of electroweak interactions. Students will study the question of neutrino masses and their impact both on theory and experiments. In particular, the student will take a closer look at the performance and sensitivities of the long baseline neutrino experiment T2K currently under construction in Japan . Acquaintance with a computing language (C++ preferred) is required.
Contact: Dr Francesca Di Lodovico
Suitable for: Independent project

Neutrino Oscillations Review

The students will study the question of neutrino masses and its impact both on theory and experiments (neutrino mixing and oscillations). In particular the project will review the current understanding of neutrino oscillations coming from terrestrial facilities. A long-baseline neutrino experiment, T2K, is under construction in Japan . The student will also review the current experimental T2K set up and the future sensitivity of the experiment to neutrino oscillations.
Contact: Dr Francesca Di Lodovico
Suitable for: Review project

Massive Neutrinos and Cosmology

Neutrinos are very abundant in the universe, influencing various cosmological stages. The role of neutrinos as dark matter particles has been widely discussed since the 1970s. The project will focus on the connection between cosmology and neutrino masses,reviewing recent cosmological observations, in particular those from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), and the sensivity of future cosmological data.
Contact: Dr Francesca Di Lodovico
Suitable for: Review project

CKM and CP Violation

In 1972 Kobayashi and Maskawa proposed a 3x3 quark mixing matrix to account for CP violation observed in the decay of neutral kaons.  In 2008 having had their model verified by the B Factory experiments (BaBar and Belle), they shared a Nobel Prize in physics.  The amount of CP violation that we know about is a billion times to small to explain the matter-anti matter asymmetry in the universe, and the CKM matrix has only been "precisely" tested with s and b quark flavor transitions.   The precision of these tests is of the order of 10%, which leaves a lot of scope for physics beyond the standard model to affect what we measure.  The s and b quarks are both down type quarks, and a programme of measurements using c quark transitions to test the CKM matrix has recently been outlined.  This review will delve into the known aspects of the CKM matrix and explore possible tests to examine the validity of the model further.

Contact: Dr Adrian Bevan
Suitable for: Review project

SNO+ Detector Modelling

SNO+ is a multi-purpose neutrino experiment based in an active nickel mine in Sudbury, Canada, due to start data taking in 2011. The SNO+ detector consists of a large volume of liquid scintillator, surrounded by nearly 10,000 PMTs. The experiment will detect neutrinos from the Sun, Earth, nuclear reactors and possibly also SuperNovae allowing precision measurements of neutrino oscillation parameters. In a separate phase of the experiment, Neodymium will be added to the scintillator to allow a search for the rare process of double beta decay which would probe the fundamental properties of the neutrino. These measurements require extremely low levels of radioactive background, and a very precise understanding of the detector response which is achieved through accurate modelling and calibration of the detector. This project would contibute directly to the testing and development of the C++ based Monte Carlo simulation package that is being written by the SNO+ collaboration for this purpose. The student would use the package to simulate various physics quantities that must be compared against theory or experimental calibration data. An understanding of C++ and linux will be required.
Contact: Dr Jeanne Wilson
Suitable for: Internship/Independent project

Test of violation of Lorentz invariance with neutrinos (application closed for summer 2016 internship)

Lorentz symmetry is a fundamental law of both quantum field theory and general relativity. However, a small violation has been shown to occur in Planck scale theories, including string theory and loop quantum gravity. If that is the case, we might expect direction dependent effective interactions in vacuum, and such interaction might affect the propagation of neutrinos. In this project, we study the theory of Lorentz violation and write down the expression of the direction dependent phenomena of neutrino propagation. This is a theory project, and computational skills are not required for students, however, basic knowledge of particle physics, including relativistic kinematics, are required (recommended to 3rd year student).
Contact: Dr Teppei Katori
Suitable for: Independent project (no internship 2017)

Modelling Atmospheric neutrino flux prediction at Antarctica

Atmospheric neutrinos are important resources to study the properties of neutrinos. Currently, state-of-the-art predictions of atmospheric neutrinos are not used in the neutrino interaction generator, such as GENIE. GENIE is a C++ based open software to simulate neutrino interactions, and an ability to use the latest neutrino flux files in GENIE help many users in the world to study atmospheric neutrino physics. In this project, we will work to develop the Monte Carlo simulation to use the latest atmospheric neutrino predictions in GENIE. Students are required to have basic skills of C++ and UNIX system (recommended to 3rd year student).   
Contact: Dr Teppei Katori
Suitable for: Independent project (no internship 2017)